Prosecution wants new expert to evaluate former Frederick pediatrician | Crime & justice

A former Frederick pediatrician accused of sexually abusing minors will not have his mental prowess assessed by a state-elected expert.

Ernesto Cesar Torres, 71, is charged with 98 charges of sex crimes against numerous minors that allegedly lasted for decades. There are also 61 charges, mainly sex crimes, against Torres in another case.

In a third case, Torres was found guilty of fourth-degree sexual offenses in 2019, but the case has been appealed. Torres is being held in a hospital overseen by the Maryland Department of Health.

Torres was found not fit to stand trial in July 2021 after two psychiatrists testified to alleged delusions Torres has about an “evil black witch.” Torres reportedly believes a witch emerged from a painting in his house and took possession of his life, according to previous court testimony.

He was also found to be unauthorized in April 2020. A defendant whose eligibility is questioned may be reassessed.

The Frederick County Attorney’s Office recently attempted to have Torres assessed by another expert, but the request was denied Thursday by Judge Julie Stevenson Solt.

Chief Counsel Joyce King pleaded in court for an independent expert to interview Torres and provide an opinion to determine competency. He has already been assessed by three doctors, Solt noted.

Defense attorney Margaret Teahan disagreed with the state seeking an expert to work outside the Maryland Department of Health. She pointed out that Torres met previous assessments from the Department of Health Psychiatrists. Teahan said forcing Torres to undergo another evaluation by the state-retained expert would violate his rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

“The state is not satisfied with the current finding,” Teahan claimed.

Solt wondered if the opinion of a fourth expert would lead them in a different direction. The judge rejected the state’s request.

Solt granted the protective order of the defense to prevent the state-detained expert from interviewing Torres. She said the state could let their expert give an opinion at an upcoming hearing without interviewing Torres.

The next competency hearing is scheduled for June.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller

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