A sequence of events could allow a Northwest Baltimore man to walk free despite leading police on a high-speed car chase while blasting an assault rifle out the window.
Mausean Carter, 31, was convicted last week of attempted murder, gun charges and reckless endangerment. On Tuesday, jurors began deliberating whether he’s sane enough to be sent to prison.
If not, Carter would return to a state mental hospital. There doctors already determined he did not suffer from mental illness. Unless they changed their minds, they would not be allowed to hold him under state law.
Such were the stakes Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court as prosecutors and defense attorneys presented dueling opinions of Carter’s sanity.
To prosecutors, Carter’s uncontrollable anger came from a poorly adjusted personality mixed with a daily cocktail of synthetic marijuana and whiskey. To his public defender, Carter was consumed by delusions — his pit bull was telepathic and Venezuela’s president bought him a car. The Park Heights man has pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.
Now jurors must decide whether Carter not only suffers a mental illness, but whether that illness left him unable to control himself or appreciate that his actions were illegal during the car chase.
Last week, prosecutors tried to convict Carter on an array of crimes — including two murders and 10 attempted murders — saying he went on a shooting rampage over three days in December 2017 that left two men dead and several others wounded. Carter had become fed up with drug dealers in his neighborhood. The drug dealers cat-called his girlfriend and threatened Carter. He sold used cars from his backyard, and they hassled his customers.
He waged his own street war, prosecutors said, arming himself with a handgun and assault rifle and commencing a series of drive-by shootings. During trial, they presented DNA evidence that put the weapons in Carter’s hands. They matched bullets from the bodies to the guns. And they played for jurors Carter’s recorded interview with police in which he speaks of his own war on drugs.
The trial ended Friday with a mixed verdict. The jury acquitted Carter from shooting up a minivan that cut him off while driving.
The jury was deadlocked over charges that Carter gunned down a man on Reisterstown Road and fired a round through a convenience store wall, killing a clerk. Circuit Judge Robert Taylor declared a mistrial on these charges. Prosecutors said they will try Carter again.
The jury, however, did find him guilty of crimes from the car chase. Carter became notorious for leading police through West Baltimore while shooting from behind the wheel.
Footage of the harrowing pursuit was watched widely online and across the city. He slowed his Lexus near Mondawmin Mall and his girlfriend ran into the intersection to pull him from the car. She covered him with her body as police swarmed with their guns drawn.
“He had reached a point where his mind was overtaken by delusions and paranoia,” Frank Cappiello, his public defender, told the jury Tuesday.
A psychologist hired by the defense told jurors she diagnosed Carter with delusional disorder, saying his obsessions about being persecuted by drug dealers outgrew reality. When his 911 calls went unanswered, he began to suspect the police were in cahoots.
“His girlfriend took him to the hospital because he was running around the house with a hammer, saying someone was trying to get in,” said Dr. Beverli Mormile, the defense psychologist. “He was consumed with the delusion that he was being persecuted, that he [felt he] had no choice.”
Dr. Annette Hanson evaluated Carter at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup. She believes he suffers from anger and too much drugs and alcohol — not mental illness. She told the jury Carter has seven previous criminal convictions for crimes like drug possession and assault. His mental health never came up.
Carter cooked up symptoms, she said, after he realized an insanity ruling could allow him to avoid prison — even send him back onto the streets.
“Every time we asked about a symptom, he agreed with it,” Hanson told the jury.
Carter had stayed trouble-free in the years before the shootings. He had bought a home in Park Heights and started his used-car business. He lived with his girlfriend and planned to propose.
“This is a guy who spent three years getting his life together only to be overwhelmed by the crime in the neighborhood,” Hanson said. “He just gave up and got angry.”