- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2008

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) | Attorneys for convicted murderer Kevin G. Johns Jr. say they are appealing a judge’s order that has kept their client in prison, despite an insanity verdict last month.

They contend solitary confinement at the Supermax prison in Baltimore is not a proper therapeutic setting and that Johns, 25, belongs instead at the state’s only maximum-security psychiatric hospital, Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, in Jessup.

Johns, convicted for three murders, is the first defendant to be treated for mental illness in prison after having been committed to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Prosecutors, along with Supermax and Perkins officials, have said Johns is too dangerous for the hospital, where restraints are used sparingly and patients are encouraged to mingle with other patients and staff. Johns’ last two victims were a prison cellmate and an inmate he strangled aboard a prison bus.

The defense filed notice last week in Harford County Circuit Court that it will appeal.

Lead defense attorney Harry J. Trainor Jr. spelled out the grounds for an appeal in a July 3 e-mail to the Associated Press.

“The Division of Correction has not provided, and cannot provide, the inpatient care and treatment in the therapeutic setting required by Maryland law,” Mr. Trainor wrote. The defense will argue for the “same level of care and treatment as they provide to other persons adjudicated Not Criminally Responsible under Maryland law.”

He also said in the e-mail, sent 10 days after the commitment order, that Johns had not yet received psychiatric treatment “despite the absolute legal requirement to provide immediate inpatient care and treatment in a therapeutic environment.” Neither Mr. Trainor nor his associate Carroll McCabe returned telephone calls Monday.

Maryland Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Gary D. Maynard said last week he understood Johns’ treatment was to have begun last week.

Perkins hospital Chief Executive Officer Sheilah Davenport said she couldn’t disclose whether treatment has begun, due to medical-privacy restrictions.

Had Johns been sent to Perkins, he would have received a psychiatric assessment immediately, Miss Davenport said. Some Perkins patients start getting treatment even before the assessment is complete, she also said.

On June 9, Harford County Circuit Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr. found Johns not criminally responsible for murdering Philip Parker Jr. aboard a prison bus. On June 23, the judge ordered Johns committed to the health and hygiene department but would not specify that the treatment be provided at a department’s facility.

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