Edward Thomas Mann, accused of murdering three men during a May 1982 shooting spree at an IBM office in Bethesda, will be permitted to meet with prosecutors and a television reporter, over the objections of two of his own attorneys, a judge ruled yesterday.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge William C. Miller said the order would not take effect until late Friday, allowing the attorneys time to ask Maryland's Court of Special Appeals to delay the ruling.
Miller deferred any ruling on whether Mann, who has been on a partial hunger strike for more than a month, can be force-fed by officials at the mental hospital where he has been committed. According to attorneys involved in the case, Mann planned to fast until he had his interview with prosecutors. However, Miller ordered Mann to submit to routine medical monitoring, such as blood pressure checks, which he has been refusing.
Miller said he was "caught between conflicting constitutional rights," and had to balance Mann's right to free speech against his right to a fair trial and protection from self-incrimination.
Miller, who ordered Mann committed to the high security Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup in February after finding him incompetent to stand trial, said it would be "a dangerous precedent" to deny Mann communication with the outside world.
Mann, 39, came before Miller yesterday wearing baggy gray trousers. According to hospital officials he has lost more than 30 pounds since beginning his partial hunger strike on June 1. Mann told Miller he would decide whether he would discontinue his hunger strike after his interview with prosecutors. "It's a religious fast," he said, "and I have no other comment on it. I'm obviously not in ill health."
The two public defenders appointed to represent Mann during competency hearings in February had fought efforts by the Montgomery County State's Attorney's office and WDVM (Channel 9) to meet with Mann, arguing that Mann could do "irreparable harm" to his defense, if he is eventually found competent to stand trial.
But Miller agreed with a third attorney appointed last week to represent Mann, Marc Rasinsky, that Mann could not offer prosecutors any new leads in their case against him. Miller said any statements Mann made to prosecutors would probably not be admitted in court because Mann already has been declared incompetent. He said an interview with Channel 9 was unlikely to prejudice the case, because Mann has received much publicity already.