Suspect Wasn't Violent, Father Says

Barry Helfand, attorney for Vitali Davydov, talks to the media with Davydov's parents, Natalia and Albert. Davydov is charged with first-degree murder.
Barry Helfand, attorney for Vitali Davydov, talks to the media with Davydov's parents, Natalia and Albert. Davydov is charged with first-degree murder. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)
By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The 19-year-old North Potomac man accused of fatally beating a prominent doctor had been under psychiatric care for about six months but had not acted violently before, his father said yesterday.

Albert Davydov said his family has "huge gratitude" for slain psychiatrist Wayne S. Fenton, who had agreed to treat his son, Vitali. Fenton went "above and beyond what he was supposed to do," Davydov said, adding that he wished there was something he could do to help the psychiatrist's mourning family.

Vitali A. Davydov is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Fenton, 53, who was beaten to death Sunday during a hastily arranged appointment at which he tried to persuade the teenager to take his medication for schizophrenia.

The teenager, dressed in a green prison jumpsuit, appeared yesterday via closed-circuit camera from the county's main jail before Montgomery County District Court Judge Gary L. Crawford, who ordered Davydov held without bond. Toward the end of the bond hearing, while talking to his attorney over the phone, Vitali Davydov was overheard saying, "My father did it."

Barry Helfand, the teenager's attorney, dismissed that claim. He said his client is severely mentally ill and is "unable to appreciate where he is and what's going on."

Authorities have provided few details about what might have triggered the assault. Douglas Olson, 64, who lives near the crime scene, said Albert Davydov, to whom he spoke at length while the two waited to give statements to police, told him that his son had irrational delusions of being raped.

Helfand confirmed last night that the threat of rape "has been one of his delusions" and that Davydov brought it up after being arrested.

Albert Davydov and his wife, Natalia, sat quietly in the front row of the courtroom.

Helfand agreed with prosecutors that Davydov needs to be screened by mental health experts. He will likely be evaluated at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a state facility in Jessup where inmates are examined to determine whether they are competent to stand trial. That could take a few weeks.

If Davydov is found competent to stand trial, Helfand said, he intends to enter a plea of not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

Helfand said he is also assessing the possibility of finding a private psychiatric facility where Davydov could be held while he is evaluated. Helfand said the county jail might not be the most suitable place to provide Davydov with the treatment he needs.

Assistant State's Attorney Constantine Lizas said Montgomery prosecutors would oppose that option because releasing Davydov from jail would pose a threat to the community.

Davydov allegedly told detectives that he killed Fenton on Sunday afternoon by beating him with his fists at the doctor's office in Bethesda. Police said Davydov had argued with his father over the medication he had been prescribed for what police described as "schizophrenia/bipolar disorder" in a charging document.

Fenton, a highly regarded psychiatrist who had served as associate director of the National Institute of Mental Health, had agreed to see Davydov at 4 p.m. Sunday and told the teenager's father that he was going to try to persuade Davydov to take the medication and perhaps accept an injected dose.

Albert Davydov said yesterday that his son had seen "quite a few" psychiatrists in recent months but had not behaved aggressively.

Albert Davydov called police after finding his son outside Fenton's office on Old Georgetown Road. He noticed blood on his son's hands, shirt and pants, police said. He then saw Fenton lying on the floor inside a small, rear office of a private medical building. The father was unable to enter because the door was locked, he said, and he shattered a window with a rock. Moments later, paramedics arrived and broke down the door.

Vitali Davydov was charged in December with possession of marijuana and carrying a concealed dangerous weapon after a traffic stop in Montgomery Village. Those charges were dropped.

Staff writer Cameron W. Barr contributed to this report.


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