A man accused of beating one of his roommates to death at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center last fall was found mentally competent Thursday to stand trial in Howard County Circuit Court.

Vitali Davydov, 24, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old David Rico-Noyola, appeared in court handcuffed, his hands covered with large padded white mittens. Bearded and wearing eyeglasses, Davydov spoke in slow, slightly slurred speech, telling Judge Lenore R. Gelfman that he waived his right to a speedy trial, and naming several medications he is now taking.

His lawyer, Barry H. Helfand, told the judge that he had no objection to the finding by a psychiatrist, presented by Howard County Deputy State's Attorney Mary V. Murphy, that Davydov was competent to stand trial. Davydov was committed to Perkins in 2006 after being found not criminally responsible for killing a psychiatrist in Bethesda.

Helfand said later that his client had been interviewed for about two hours over two sessions last month by psychiatrist Dr. Tyler C. Hightower, who produced a six-page report saying Davydov was fit for trial. The standard for competency is whether the defendant can understand the proceedings well enough to take part in his or her defense.

Davydov waived his right to be tried within 180 days of his lawyer's first appearance on his behalf in November, which would have meant a trial in May. Helfand said he needed more time, and the judge set a five-day trial to begin July 16.

The killing Oct. 21 was followed about a week later by a second killing of one patient by another, prompting a review of security procedures at the psychiatric hospital in Jessup. The hospital treats about 250 patients, most of whom have faced serious criminal charges such as murder, rape and assault. Some have been found incompetent to stand trial, and others have been found not criminally responsible.

Davydov was charged after police said Rico-Noyola was found on the floor in a pool of blood on the afternoon of Oct. 21 in the room he shared with Davydov and another man in the maximum-security wing of the hospital.

According to a report by a state trooper included in the case file, Rico-Noyola suffered "blunt force trauma to the face and head" and Davydov's hands showed "blood and minor lacerations on and around the knuckled area" when he told a nurse that he had beaten his roommate. Davydov told the nurse that "my roommate tried to rape me, and I beat him up," the report said.

Helfand said he would argue that Davydov was being sexually assaulted and acted in self-defense. Depending on the outcome of state examinations of the body of Rico-Noyola, he said he might ask that the body be exhumed to search for DNA evidence of a sexual assault.

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

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