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October 8, 2005

Psychiatric treatment ordered for Beaver County slaying suspect

From: Pittsburgh Post Gazette, PA - Oct 8, 2005

Saturday, October 08, 2005

By Gabrielle Banks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Freedom man charged with killing his sister and brother-in-law May 2 is not mentally fit to face a criminal trial, a Beaver County judge ruled yesterday.

Following the recommendation of a forensic psychiatrist who testified Thursday as an expert witness, Common Pleas Court Judge John D. McBride ordered the defendant, Thomas Simich, Jr., transferred to Mayview State Hospital in South Fayette. The psychiatrist, Dr. Christine Martone, will re-evaluate him within in 90 days of his treatment, the time-period required under a Pennsylvania statute.

Mr. Simich, who is deaf, told Dr. Martone in a July 13 interview at the Beaver County Jail that he heard voices telling him to harm his family. The voices also told him he was going to be the last person on earth, according to the Bible.

He does understand the charges against him, she said. However, the delusions and hallucinations he has experienced in recent months would make it impossible for him to distinguish reality from fantasy in the courtroom.

Yesterday's incompetency ruling is a short-term measure. Mr. Simich, 45, may still be tried on criminal charges if he is found competent on the next evaluation or any future evaluations mandated by the court.

First Assistant District Attorney Anthony Berosh, the prosecutor in the Simich case, compared the circumstances to those in the Richard S. Baumhammers case before it went to trial in 2001. A judge had said the Mt. Lebanon man was mentally unfit to stand trial for a racially motivated killing rampage.

But after two delays for competency evaluations, Baumhammers was tried, convicted and received a death sentence. Berosh helped prosecute Baumhammers.

(Gabrielle Banks can be reached at or 412-263-1370.)

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