Judge commits man to psych care in Union Hospital attack
— A man who beat a nurse with a plastic container and attacked other staff members — while he was a Union Hospital psych ward patient in 2011 — has been committed indefinitely to psychiatric hospitals, after being deemed “not criminally responsible” due to his mental illness.
Cecil County Circuit Court Judge Brenda A. Sexton signed an order on June 13 officially committing the defendant, Felix Monroy, 35, to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup, where Monroy has been under in-patient psychiatric care almost since the time of his arrest on April 17, 2011, the day of the incident.
Monroy will remain at that mental hospital until Monday when, also part of the court order, he will be flown from BWI Airport near Baltimore to his native Mexico, where he will arrive in Mexico City and his psychiatric commitment immediately will be transferred to a designated mental hospital in that country.
As part of the transfer arrangements, which involved input from a Mexican consulate, a nurse and other Clifton T. Perkins staff members will accompany
Monroy on the flight to Mexico, where they will be met at the airport by his family members and staff from the designated psychiatric hospital in that country.
Monroy will be taken directly to that designated mental hospital, where he will remain under court-ordered residential care indefinitely until psychiatrists there conclude that Monroy is no longer a threat to himself or others and is discharged.
Sexton listed numerous conditions of the arrangement, including that the court promptly receive documentation of Monroy’s arrival and admission at the psychiatric hospital in Mexico, noting that the envelope containing the official paperwork must bear a Mexican postage stamp.
Psychiatrists at the mental hospital in Mexico also must apprise the court here of Monroy’s progress and notify the court if and when they determine that Monroy is mentally able to return to society down there. Monroy is prohibited from having any type of contact, direct or indirect, with the victims and their families, Sexton ordered.
The judge issued the commitment order during a disposition hearing, which had been listed as a sentencing on the court docket.
On May 23, as part of a plea deal in the five-year-old criminal case marked by delays due technicalities and defense motions resulting in court-ordered mental health evaluations, Monroy essentially pleaded “no contest” to first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault. Specifically, he pleaded “not guilty” while agreeing with the statement of facts that prosecutors presented about the incident.
The judge, in turn, found Monroy guilty of those three offenses. As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors dropped 15 related charges against Monroy, including attempted first-degree murder, first-degree arson and reckless endangerment.
However, the judge also had ruled that Monroy was “not criminally responsible,” based on conclusions drawn by Clifton T. Perkins psychiatrists who had evaluated Monroy in accordance with a court order issued after his assistant public defender, Thomas Klenk, had filed what is commonly called an “insanity plea” on behalf of his client. Those psychiatrists concluded that Monroy could not discern the criminality of his actions due to his mental problem.
(In December 2012, those state psychiatrists also had deemed Monroy incompetent to stand trial, after examining him and concluding that Monroy’s unspecified mental illness or deficiency would prevent him from understanding the court proceedings and from assisting in his own defense. They evaluated Monroy after Klenk had filed an incompetency motion on behalf of Monroy.)
So instead of facing imprisonment — his three convictions carry a combined maximum 45year sentence — Monroy was indefinitely committed.
During the hearing, Monroy, who had entered the courtroom handcuffed, shackled and escorted by two correctional officers, spoke and listened through a Spanish interpreter.
Assistant State’s Attorney David Parrack and James Close, an assistant public defender filling in for Klenk, stood as the local lawyers during the proceeding.
Both supported the commitment disposition and its particulars, but the bulk of the hearing was handled by Rhonda Edwards, an assistant Maryland attorney general assigned to that agency’s Health and Mental Hygiene Division, and Brad A. Hersey, an assistant public defender who is assigned to that office’s Mental Health Division.
After the hearing, Hersey reported that Monroy has made significant progress through his mental health treatment at Clifton T. Perkins over the years. In the courtroom, Monroy appeared well-groomed and seemed alert.
“He is not the same person he was when he went in,” Hershey said, noting that Monroy is aware of his improvement and wants to continue to get better. “This is a success story.”
Monroy, who was a Warwick resident at the time of the incident, used a plastic water pitcher to beat a nurse about 5:20 a.m. on April 17, 2011, on the fourth-floor psychiatric ward at Union Hospital in Elkton, where Monroy was an involuntary patient.
He also stood accused of attacking several other employees, leaving four of them with lesser injuries than suffered by the nurse. Some of the hospital employees listed as Monroy’s victims were trying to subdue him.
In addition, he stood accused of setting a fire in a ward bathroom before he allegedly lashed out at the staff. An employee quickly extinguished the small fire.