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Judge: Multiple murderer not criminally responsible for strangling fellow inmate on bus from Hagerstown

June 09, 2008

BEL AIR, Md. (AP) -- A Harford County judge has found a mentally ill multiple murderer not criminally responsible in the strangling death of a fellow inmate aboard a prison bus.

Kevin Johns faces commitment to the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene after Monday's verdict in his first-degree murder trial. But 25-year-old Johns will remain in Division of Correction custody until at least June 23 as state officials work to resolve prosecutors' concerns about the safety of those who will be around Johns.

Defense lawyers didn't dispute that Johns strangled 20-year-old Philip Parker Jr. as the bus filled with inmates and correctional officers traveled from Hagerstown to Baltimore in February 2005. But they successfully argued Johns wasn't criminally responsible because he couldn't control his actions and because state mental-health professionals and prison workers didn't keep him properly medicated and restrained.

Prosecutors conceded that Johns is mentally ill, one criteria for a finding of not criminally responsible, but said Johns knew he was committing a crime when he killed Parker.

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