State Mental Health Chief Scolded On Defendant Tests

The Buffalo News
December 24, 2003

By Matt Gryta

An Erie County judge this week threatened to hold acting State Mental Health Commissioner Sharon E. Carpinello in contempt of court for the state's failure to conduct a second set of court-ordered psychiatric examinations on Jeremy M. Perkins in the slaying of his mother.

Judge Shirley Troutman told attorneys for Perkins and the Erie County district attorney's office that should Carpinello fail to begin carrying out her new order by Jan. 4, she may be held in contempt of court.

Troutman's ruling, which conceivably could lead to the jailing of the mental health commissioner, came as prosecutor Kenneth F. Case told her that Carpinello had failed to order a second set of psychiatric examinations of Perkins after a Nov. 14 order by the judge.

Perkins, 28, of Amherst, has a history of schizophrenic problems his family was treating only with vitamins. On July 29, he entered a plea of mentally not responsible in the slaying of his 54-year- old mother, Ellie Perkins, who was stabbed 77 times in their Hopkins Road home March 13.

The judge ordered mental testing at that time to determine whether she has to order Perkins' imprisonment or have him confined indefinitely in a state mental hospital.

After John R. Nuchereno, Perkins' attorney, on Nov. 14 challenged the professional qualifications of the two Rochester Psychiatric Center physicians who examined his client, Troutman ordered further testing by board-certified psychiatrists for a hearing she was to have conducted Monday.

Troutman said that it is "clear" under state criminal law that she needed "competent information" on whether Perkins is currently dangerous to himself and others and in need of further psychiatric care before she can rule on the placement issue.

Jill Daniels, an Albany spokeswoman for the state mental health commissioner, said that "while the case is working its way through the court system, the commissioner will not have any comment."

Court officials said Troutman is expected to conduct further proceedings by the end of January.

Perkins, a Williamsville North High School dropout, stabbed his mother while they were alone at home.

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