Paul E. Wersick, the 15-year-old charged with the fatal shooting of a Montgomery County tax assessor, was considered to be "exceedingly dangerous" by a psychiatrist who saw him more than a year before Wersick was arrested on the murder charge.
Psychiatrist Brian Crowley testified yesterday that he reported his findings to Wersick's mother and the boy's lawyer in the spring of 1977, when Wersick was facing juvenile charges in the shooting death of an 11-year-old playmate.Crowley said he was then quickly dismissed from the case.
Wersick was hospitalized briefly, according to Crowley. But about two weeks later, Crowley got a call from the new psychiatrist who told him "Paul back in the community," according to Crowley's testimony.
Wersick subsequently was found "involved" in the shooting of the 11-year-old girl. Now his new lawyers are fighting in court to have him tried in juvenile court on charges of shooting assessor George E. Angerman Jr. to death in July.
In the hearing yesterday to determine whether Wersick will be tried as a juvenile or an adult, psychiatrist Reginald S. Lourie testifieid that Wersick, who had immature fears "of body damage," and was afraid to show aggression, became "an easy target" for his peers. Unable to defend himself, Wersick felt "vulnerable, victimized," the psychiatrist said.
He retreated into "fantasies of omnipotent ways of controlling violence in the world, ways of showing contempt for authorities who do not care for people properly and ways of correcting injustices," according to the doctor.
"When angry and other impulses break through," Lourie testified, "they result in unpremeditated acts. . . which he quickly pushes out of his memory."
Both Lourie and Crowley recommended that Wersick be tried in the juvenile court system, where they believe treatment for his mental problems would be available.
But Deputy State's Attorney Timothy Clarke pointed out yesterday that legally this would mean Wersick would be free of the court's jurisdiction when he reaches 21 - "five years and two weeks from now," Clarke said.
Crowley, however testified that he believes a "safety value" should be placed in Wersick's treatment plan if he is tried as a juvenile and found responsible for Angerman's death.
The court should instruct juvenile authorities that Wersick must undergo a psychiatric evaluation a few weeks before he reaches 21, and if he is found "dangerous to himself or others," he should be committed to a mental institution under civil commitment proceedings, Crowley testified. In his testimony, Lourie spoke of a similar plan.
Crowley acknowledged under cross-examination that his proposed program for Wersick was based on a number of "assumptions," including those that proper treatment for the boy could be arranged by juvenile authorities, and that he would be civilly committed if necessary at 21.
"Paul must be off the street and must be incarcerated where there is no escape risk," Crowley said from the witness stand, "If treatment can be offered . . . it's safer than if he is put in a warehouse so that when he emerges he's be as dangerous . . . or even more dangerous.
The bearing before Judge H. Ralph Miller is scheduled to continue today.Juvenile authorities testified yesterday that Wersick, if found responsible for Angerman's death, would be placed in the Maryland Training School for Boys.
Throughout yesterday's hearing, the 15-year-old slouched in a chair between his attorneys, Montgomery County Public Defender James McKenna and his assistant Paul Kemp, and hardly spoke a word.
Interspersed among all the psychiatric testimony were some of Wersick's own comments, quoted by psychiatrist Lourie.
"In school they made fun of me as far back as I can remember," Lourie read from his notes. "I wouldn't fight so they picked on me, taking a few punches whenever they'd feel like it."