Retrial Delayed for Competency Evaluation in Domestic Killing

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A homicide defendant appeared before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge John A. Howard for retrial in the case of his wife’s fatal stabbing on March 1.

Amit Kumar, 44, is charged with first-degree murder, possession of a deadly weapon with the intent to injure and second-degree murder.

On Nov. 18, 2019, Kumar was found guilty of possession of a deadly weapon with the intent to injure, according to previous coverage.

Documents from the Appellate Court of Maryland state that the defendant appealed on the basis that there were issues regarding the voir dire, or jury selection, process in his first trial. 

Defense attorneys Judit Otvos and Brandon Thornton stood beside the defendant as they asked Judge Howard to grant their request for postponement to proceed with their motion to examine mental competency. The two said the forensic psychologist who examined Kumar did not evaluate his competency and explained the defendant has “serious cognitive issues.”

With that, both attorneys stated the medical jail records they did obtain supported the doctor’s statements, indicating that Kumar experiences hallucinations. 

The assistant’s state attorneys had no objection to the motion, understanding that if they were to go to trial today, the competency examination would still need to be resolved.

Judge Howard granted counsel the ability to go before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Melissa K. Copeland in reception court to decide if they could postpone the trial. 

During reception court, Judge Copeland, although puzzled as to why the defense waited until the trial date to address this issue, agreed there needed to be a full examination before the case could proceed. 

She granted the postponement request and told counsel to go to mental health court to have the medical examination granted. 

Court documents state that on Jan. 11, 2019, a Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officer responded to a report of a possible murder at a home on the 6000 block of Holabird Avenue.

On scene, officers discovered Kumar’s wife, Ankita Verma, who had lacerations on her arm and stab wounds on her body. Surveillance footage allegedly showed Kumar locking their door and was the only one seen coming or leaving the residence. Police were unable to locate Kumar and determined he fled the area.

Baltimore Witness coverage indicated that Kumar turned himself in to authorities in Syracuse, N.Y.

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