CRIME

Attorney: Hospital killing part of suicide pact

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ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (AP) - An attorney for a patient at maximum-security mental hospital plans to argue at trial next week that the 2010 strangling of a fellow patient was part of a half-fulfilled suicide pact.

Court documents state that Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center patient El Soudani El Wahhabi told police that he kissed Susan Sachs, then pulled a shoelace tight around her neck until she stopped breathing.

Attorney Debra Saltz says he told investigators they had a suicide pact, but he gave up when the shoelace he used to hang himself broke.

El Wahhabi has pleaded not guilty and not criminally responsible to murder charges, but Saltz won't be allowed to argue that he is not criminally responsible - the equivalent of an insanity defense - because there is no expert to testify.

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