The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

October 29, 2012

Psychiatrist: Sims killed in heat of passion

LEWISBURG — Roderick Sims shot and killed Charity Spickler in a heat of passion after seeing her in bed with another man, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Clarence Watson testified Monday in Union County Court.

An extremely agitated Sims, who opposes the defense strategy of involuntary manslaughter due to his mental state, interrupted the Philadelphia defense expert several times.

“He is speculating,” Sims blurted out at one point.

The 50-year-old claims he was under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs on Sept. 27, 2008, and accidentally shot and killed his estranged fiancee and the mother of his three children at her friend’s 55 S. Water St. apartment.

Undeterred by blood tests that show he was not intoxicated the night of the shooting, Sims told President Judge Michael H. Sholley he’s upset defense attorneys John McLaughlin and Michael Dennehy, of Danville, aren’t listening to him and continue to pursue a defense strategy he disputes.

Union County District Attorney D. Peter Johnson contends Sims was angry with Spickler for leaving him and meant to kill her. He is seeking a felony second-degree murder conviction, which carries a life sentence.

Prosecution witnesses Kevin and Donna Gray testified last week that Sims threatened to shoot Spickler in the head just days before the slaying.

The threats didn’t sway Watson’s position that Sims, who he diagnosed as having a narcissistic personality disorder, killed Spickler in a rage that erupted suddenly when he looked in the window of the first-floor apartment and saw her topless in bed with Eric Hitchcock.

“He flew off the handle. He was reacting to what he saw,” said Watson, testifying to what Sims told him about the shooting.

Hitchcock testified last week that he was giving Spickler a back massage on the bed for about 15 minutes before Sims broke down the back door of the apartment, tore the bedroom door off the hinges and confronted them with a revolver.

Watson said his opinion about Sims’ immediate violent reaction would change if he’d been watching them through the window for a prolonged period of time.

Though Sims denied in his testimony that he saw Spickler and Hitchcock on the bed while admittedly peeking through other windows of the apartment, his mother took the stand and said that’s what set him off the night of the shooting.

Carolyn Crafton, of Paterson, N.J., testified Sims called her at 11:55 p.m., immediately after the slaying, and told her what he had done.

“Ma, I just killed Charity and I’m going to kill myself. I caught her in bed with another man,” she recalled him saying.

Sims, who was chided by Sholley for interrupting witnesses and speaking loudly during the testimony of others Monday, asked to take the stand again.

Sholley denied the request, noting that Sims was given a rare opportunity to deliver his testimony Friday in a narrative rather than the usual question-and-answer format.

“You had your opportunity,” he said.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 1 p.m. today.

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