An Anne Arundel County man with a history of mental health problems was sentenced yesterday to treatment at the state's maximum-security psychiatric hospital for killing his father - a crime prompted by a psychotic episode, according to a court-ordered psychological evaluation.
John Scott Bealefeld, 43, of Linthicum pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder for the beating death of his father, Maurice Bealefeld, 74, last summer at the home they shared.
Though he pleaded guilty, he was found "not criminally responsible," akin under Maryland law to an insanity plea.
John Bealefeld apologized in court yesterday,
"I truly had mental problems going back to even before 1991," when he was committed to a mental health facility, he said. "I just feel I won't be able to hurt anyone else where I'm going."
Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Paul F. Harris ordered that Bealefeld, now being held at the county detention center, be transferred to the state-run Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center.
"This is one of the most tragic, sad cases I've had since being a judge," Harris said. "It's a shame the [victim] passed in such a tragic manner, especially at the hands of his son."
Bealefeld's defense attorney, Heather E. Tierney, told the judge that her client was in the throes of a "psychotic episode" at the time of the killing.
"He had stopped taking his medicine because voices told him so," Tierney said. "He does still hear voices from time to time."
Twice in recent years, Maurice Bealefeld had petitioned the courts to evaluate his son's mental health and was denied.
Prosecutor Kathleen E. Rogers said, "hindsight is certainly 20/20," but she declined to criticize past court decisions.
In 2002, John Bealefeld received probation on a second-degree assault charge alleging he had struck his father.
John Bealefeld's sister, Sharon Brown of Baltimore, called the home on the morning of May 14, 2007, to speak to her father and, according to Rogers, he told his sister in a "sarcastic" tone, "I killed Dad. I beat him to death. Is that OK?"
When police arrived at the home where father and son lived in the 400 block of Nancy Ave., they found John Bealefeld smoking a cigar outside.
John Bealefeld told police his father had "disrespected him" and it was a "justifiable homicide," Rogers said.
Brown told the judge of her father: "All he wanted to do was get help for my brother."