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Man Accused Of Killing Evelyn Player Was Working In Her Church, Attorney Says; Will Plead Not Criminally Responsible

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The man accused of killing Evelyn Player was working at her East Baltimore church on the day of her death, according to his attorney, who also claims the defendant doesn't remember the day of her death.

Manzie Smith, 62, the suspect in the murder of 69-year-old Evelyn Player, appeared in court Monday morning for a bail hearing. The judge ordered Smith to be held without bail after being charged last week with first-degree murder.

Smith is accused of killing Player inside her East Baltimore Church last month. But his attorney tells WJZ this case is much more complicated than it appears.
Warren Brown, Smith's attorney, tells WJZ he'll file a plea of Not Criminally Responsible, Maryland's equivalent to an insanity defense, due to his client's alleged mental health issues.
Brown believes the crime could have been avoided if someone should have done something to protect Smith from himself and others.
"This guy has some real issues," Brown said.
He claims Smith has no memory from the day Player was killed.
"He was horrified by the possibility that he had done this but couldn't give me any idea as to whether he did or not...he was on prescription drugs for his psychosis and for his schizophrenia," said Brown after visiting Smith in jail.
Brown said Smith was at the church the day of Player's murder to work.
"We know that he had been in the place doing some day labor work with some contractor," Brown said.
Player was found stabbed to death in a bathroom inside the Southern Baptist Church in East Baltimore the morning of Nov. 16, about an hour after she let contractors in to perform renovation work inside the church, police said.
On Dec. 1, the day of Player's funeral, Smith was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and related offenses in her death.
According to charging documents, DNA evidence at the scene lead investigators to Smith. But Brown has questions about how the DNA was collected.
"Where did you all get the DNA from and was there any cross-contamination?" Brown asks.
According to charging documents obtained by WJZ, Smith has a history of violent attacks on women, convicted of rape in 1979 and again in 1992. In 2014, he was convicted of assaulting and robbing a woman and released from prison in July on Mandatory Supervision, which expired in October.
According to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Mandatory Supervision cannot be legally extended when a case has closed.
But Smith's attorney believes Smith should have never been removed from the state's supervision.
"It was clear that this man suffered from some serious mental health issues that were not addressed in the manner that they should have been addressed," he said Monday.
A spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services confirmed Smith was not under the supervision of the agency at the time of the alleged crime.
His attorney says Smith is now being held in the prison psych ward, as he tries to move him to a mental hospital.
The judge on Monday also ordered a mental health evaluation and suicide risk assessment for Smith.
Officials have not revealed a motive in the killing, but Mayor Brandon Scott said the murder was not drug-related or connected to any violent groups. Police said they do not believe Player was sexually assaulted.
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