Judge finds gunman mentally incompetent


A Howard Circuit Court judge found a 47-year-old Catonsville man not criminally responsible yesterday for shooting and seriously wounding a school custodian in an Ellicott City drugstore, and committed him indefinitely to a state mental institution.

James M. Lane faced attempted first-degree murder and other charges in the shooting Aug. 2 of Robert Lee Jackson Jr., who is chief custodian at Mayfield Woods Middle School in Elkridge.

"Psychiatrists will determine when -- if ever -- [Lane] will be released into society," Judge Lenore R. Gelfman said yesterday.

Lane will be held at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup.

Lane was evaluated by staff at the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and was found to suffer from numerous conditions -- including schizophrenic bipolar disorder and anti-social personality disorder -- and was determined to be a drug and alcohol abuser, according to a portion of the report read yesterday in court. The judge sealed the report in the court records.

Lane had not taken medication for an anxiety disorder for two weeks when he entered the Rite Aid and shot Jackson four times, according to a statement of facts entered yesterday into the court record.

Jackson ran out the store's front door while Lane dropped the handgun, put his hands up and laid down on the floor, the statement said.

When police arrived, they found Lane on the floor and a store clerk had retrieved the handgun used to shoot Jackson, the statement said.

When asked about his reasons for shooting Jackson, Lane said he thought that Jackson was following him and trying to kill him, the statement said.

Lane is on medication for his illnesses, which made him capable of understanding yesterday's proceedings. But he suffered from a mental disorder at the time of the shooting that made him not criminally responsible for his actions, the judge said.

"Although the defendant is presently competent to stand trial, he was not mentally competent at the time of the crime," Gelfman said yesterday.

Gelfman explained the court's finding to Jackson, who appeared in court yesterday. F. Todd Taylor Jr., deputy state's attorney, read a statement from Jackson about the impact of the shooting on his life.

"I have never met this man nor have I ever done anything to him. Yet he walked up to me and shot me point-blank," said Taylor, reading from Jackson's statement. "If I had not run out of the store, he would have continued to shoot me and I might have been killed."

One bullet entered Jackson's leg, another entered his side and pierced his stomach and small intestine, a third entered and exited an arm, and a fourth lodged in his back near his spine, court papers showed.

Two bullets remain in Jackson's body -- one in his back and another in his leg -- because it was not medically possible to remove them without endangering his health, according to court papers. Jackson is not well enough to return to work, Taylor said.

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