Adelphi man's mental competency dominates deputies slaying trial
Oct. 31, 2003
Mary Cook
Special to The Gazette

Mental health experts for both the prosecution and the defense were expected to dominate court proceedings over the next two days in the trial of an Adelphi man accused of fatally shooting two Prince George's County deputies.

The defense attorney for James R. Logan has sought to convince the Prince George's County Circuit Court jury that his client cannot be found guilty of the killings by arguing an insanity defense.

Logan is accused of killing deputies James V. Arnaud and Elizabeth L. Magruder when the two deputies tried to take him into custody for an emergency psychiatric evaluation at Logan's parents' home on Aug. 29, 2002. Logan broke away from the deputies in the basement of the home and ran into a bedroom, where he allegedly retrieved a handgun, burst from the room and fired multiple times at both deputies.

On Monday, the trial's first day, defense attorney Fred Bennett did not deny that his client killed the deputies. Bennett instead said his client suffered from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the shootings.

The state's attorney's office countered that Logan's mental health problems were created by the defendant's deliberate drug abuse.

On Tuesday, Bennett continued to lay groundwork for his incompetency plea. Called as one of the prosecution's key witnesses, Anthony Kromah spent more than an hour on the stand. Dreadlocks falling into his face, Kromah's nearly inaudible testimony kept family members of the fallen sheriff's deputies straining to hear.

Kromah was charged as an accessory to the murders for allegedly aiding Logan's escape. He took jurors through the events of the night of the slayings.

Bennett attempted to paint a picture of Logan as a young man out of touch with reality. At one point, Bennett asked Kromah to confirm one of Logan's alleged statements that night: "I am the chosen one."

Assistant State's Attorney John Maloney, head of the prosecution team, presented evidence to show Logan's actions during the slayings were deliberate. William Greene, an evidence technician for the Prince George's County Sheriff's office, walked jurors through each bullet's trajectory. He told jurors, in contradiction to Bennett's presentation, it was "a methodical shooting."

Mental experts for the prosecution and defense were expected to testify through the end of the week, with closing arguments possibly beginning next Tuesday.

The fatal shootings were the first in the 300-year history of the Prince George's County Sheriff's office. Logan could face the death penalty if convicted.