Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Lawyer: Shooting suspect needs help

By M.R. Kropko
The Associated Press

CLEVELAND - A man charged with killing a student during a shooting spree at Case Western Reserve University needs to be under psychiatric observation, a public defender said Tuesday.

Biswanath Halder, 62, didn't speak during his first court appearance after being charged with aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. He was ordered held without bond.

Municipal Court Judge Robert Triozzi agreed to classify Halder as an inmate with "medical and psychological needs."

Public defender Kathleen DeMetz said she made the request after talking with Halder in his jail cell.

"In speaking with him, I did pick up evidence of what I believe to be psychiatric problems," she said. "I wanted to make sure he was put under observation, and also make sure he was given any medication he needs for physical or psychiatric needs he might have." She would not elaborate, citing attorney-client privilege.

Halder is charged with opening fire inside the university's business school on Friday. Graduate student Norman Wallace, 30, of Youngstown, was killed and two people were wounded.

Nearly 100 people were trapped inside the building during a seven-hour standoff, hiding inside offices, classrooms and closets until SWAT team members and FBI agents got them out.

Triozzi said he wouldn't grant bond because of the nature of the charges and concern for community safety.

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