A patient at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital accused of fatally stabbing another patient on New Year’s Eve 2019, has been acquitted of murder.
Judge Stephen Taylor’s decision came Friday following a single-day bench trial that included findings by two forensic psychiatrists. The doctors said Rashid Davis, 31, a former Union County resident, had a mental illness when he used a box cutter-style knife to stab Shamir Segura, 25, of Hopatcong, at the state’s most populated psychiatric hospital.
Davis knew he was stabbing Segura, but “did not know what he was doing was wrong,” Dr. Erica Schiffman, a defense-acquired psychiatrist wrote in her report. Christopher Schellhorn, a supervising assistant prosecutor in Morris County, read portions of the reports during the trial held at the Morris County Courthouse.
Schiffman had evaluated Davis, who appeared virtually from a room at the Ann Klein Forensic Center in Trenton, which houses individuals who are facing criminal offenses as a result of their mental illnesses. Davis, she wrote, has paranoid schizophrenia, an apparent now-obsolete term used to describe a serious mental illness that is often accompanied by hallucinations and disordered thinking, according to the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center. She also diagnosed him with an unspecified personality disorder with a history of multiple substance use disorders.
Prosecutors called their expert, Dr. Louis Schlesinger, who in his report offered a similar diagnosis and said Davis should not be held criminally liable for Segura’s death due to a “defect of the mind.”
“Rashid Davis is an extremely dangerous individual whose dangerousness can be missed because he has a good ability to mask his symptoms,” Schlesinger wrote in his report.
Schellhorn and Davis’ attorney Anthony Pope did not share opening or closing statements during the roughly 40-minute hearing, instead agreeing with their experts’ reports.
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The evidence and investigation makes it clear Davis committed the crime, the judge said, but both experts could not conclude Harris was aware that it was wrong — elements required to reach a not guilty by reason of insanity decision.
Davis was a patient at Greystone at the time of the killing after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2014 fatal stabbing of an 83-year-old Newark man, according to court records. The killing took place while Davis was out on bail on a pending 2012 robbery and weapons-related offense in Union County. He was also found not guilty by reason of insanity on those offenses.
On Dec. 31, 2019, Davis, according to reports, was in the facility that straddles Morris Plains and Parsippany. Around 2:40 p.m., staff members found Davis standing in a hallway with his hands covered in blood, prosecutors said. He allegedly told employees to call the police and, referring to his room, said: “You’ll find him.”
Staff found Segura in a pool of blood with wounds to his neck and a box cutter-style knife blade under his body, prosecutors said. Despite efforts to save him, Segura died at the scene.
Surveillance video showed Davis and Segura entering Davis’ room that afternoon, and, just two minutes later, Davis left the room, court records show.
Police said Davis later told them that he “did something bad” and that he “threw it” in a trash bag. A search of a trash bag produced a knife handle with no blade, prosecutors said.
An autopsy determined Segura died due to three stab wounds to his neck, including one that sliced the carotid artery and the jugular vein, Schellhorn said.
Davis also faced two weapons-related offenses and had he been convicted, he faced up to life in prison. Davis declined a plea offer for 30 years in prison in February 2021, two months after his then-public defender said she planned to mount an insanity defense.
Davis will undergo an evaluation by a psychiatrist at Ann Klein to determine his level of dangerousness, which will determine where he will be housed in the future. With all defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity, he will have a hearing in the coming weeks to address his level of confinement, which will allow his family and the victim’s family to speak. Neither had the opportunity to speak on Friday.
Hearings will continue periodically with an end goal to plan discharge and reintegrate the individual back into the community.
Lori Comstock can be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.