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Sibug v. State

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

October 2, 2014

MARIO SIBUG
v.
STATE OF MARYLAND

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. Michael J. Finifter, Judge.

Argued by: Brian L. Zavin, (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD for Appellant.

Argued by: Mary Ann Ince (Douglas F. Gansler, Attorney General on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD for Appellee.

Krauser, C.J., Wright, Rodowsky, Lawrence F. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

OPINION

Page 1246

[219 Md.App. 361] Krauser, C.J.

In 1999, Mario Sibug, appellant, was charged with multiple counts of assault

Page 1247

and related handgun offenses,[1] all of which arose out of a single incident. That same year, he pleaded not guilty, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, to those charges and alleged that he was not competent to stand trial. The Baltimore County circuit court subsequently ordered him committed to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center (" Perkins" ) for inpatient care and treatment. There, he remained for the next four years until Perkins, in a letter to the circuit court, expressed its view that Sibug was now competent to stand trial.

In May of 2004, Sibug was transported from Perkins to the courthouse, where he entered a plea of not guilty, on an agreed statement of facts, to the 1999 charge of second-degree assault, and was sentenced to a term of four-and-a-half years' imprisonment on that charge. A year later, however, the circuit court vacated his conviction and sentence, concluding that Sibug's trial counsel had rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by not informing him of the immigration consequences of his assault conviction, and granted Sibug a new trial.

Sibug was retried in September of 2008. After a jury found him guilty of multiple counts of assault, using a handgun in [219 Md.App. 362] the commission of a crime of violence, and giving minors access to a firearm, he was sentenced to a term of ten years' imprisonment. Although Sibug did not note an appeal from his convictions, three years later he did file a petition for post-conviction relief and was thereafter granted the right to file a belated appeal. Having done so, he now presents two questions for our consideration. Rephrased to facilitate review, they are:

I. Was Sibug's right to due process of law violated by the court's failure to determine, prior to his new trial, that he was competent to stand trial?
II. Did the trial court err in finding, at the sentencing hearing following Sibug's new trial, that he was competent to stand trial?

Finding no merit to either contention, we affirm.

Background

In October of 1998, Sibug called his five children to the kitchen table. When the family had gathered as demanded, Sibug pulled out a handgun and pointed it at each of his children, and then " cock[ed]" it to demonstrate that it was loaded. He then instructed his frightened children that they were to stop acting " rebellious" and were to respect his authority as their father.

A month later, Sibug's fifteen-year-old son called the police to report this incident. He told them that Sibug, after becoming angry with him and his siblings, had pointed a gun at him and that he was afraid that his father was going to kill him. When Baltimore County police subsequently arrested Sibug, they found a handgun, as well as an assault rifle, lying on shelves in Sibug's bedroom at the family's residence. Both guns were in cases, but neither case was locked and both weapons were loaded and fully operable. Sibug was ultimately charged with multiple counts of both first-degree assault and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and using a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence, as well as permitting a minor access to a firearm.

Page 1248

[219 Md.App. 363] When Sibug subsequently alleged that he was not competent to stand trial, the Baltimore County circuit court ordered the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (" the Department" ) to examine Sibug.[2] In accordance with that order, Sibug was admitted to Perkins for evaluation on November 2, 1999.

A little more than a month later, Perkins sent a letter and a " competency evaluation" of Sibug to the circuit court. In that evaluation, Perkins opined that Sibug was not competent to stand trial and was suffering from a mental disorder that rendered him " dangerous" to himself and others. The evaluation further disclosed that Sibug believed that his children were " bad" and " lawless" in spite of his " godly instruction," and that he had decided to discipline his children according to the Bible and " God's law." Perkins ultimately diagnosed Sibug as suffering from both a " Delusional Disorder, Mixed Type" and a " Narcissistic Personality Disorder." [3]

As for Sibug's competency to stand trial, the Perkins evaluation stated that, although Sibug understood the operation and purpose of the judicial system, he was convinced that he would not receive a fair trial because " the judicial system and its agents are 'of Satan,'" and the prosecution against him was a battle between the " righteous" and the " wicked." He therefore intended to base his defense on Scripture. The evaluation concluded that Sibug was unable to " appreciate" the proceedings against him or to assist a lawyer in his defense, particularly if the lawyer did not share his religious beliefs. In light of that evaluation, the circuit court found, on January 13, 2000, that Sibug was not competent to stand trial and then ordered that Sibug be committed to the Department for [219 Md.App. 364] inpatient care and treatment at Perkins until the court was " satisfied that [he was] no longer incompetent to stand trial."

Four months later, on May 1, 2000, Perkins sent the circuit court a letter and a new evaluation that opined that, in its view, Sibug was now competent to stand trial and, furthermore, it believed that he was " criminally responsible" [4] at the time of the offense. Sibug's trial was subsequently set for August 28, 2000.[5] But three-and-a-half weeks before that trial was to occur, the court received, on August 3, 2000, yet another letter from Perkins. This letter advised that ...


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