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Guilt over abortion led to suicide of prisoner


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 7, 2000

TAMPA -- Since the day in February when his girlfriend told him she had an abortion, 27-year-old Chikel Dorisme had thought about suicide.

Immediately after he stabbed Cara Beth Policelli to death in a Tampa General Hospital parking garage on March 2, he tried to drown himself in the shallow water around Davis Islands.

Failing that, he jumped into traffic near the hospital and was seriously injured.

But he lived, and was charged with first-degree murder. While recovering, he told detectives he had wanted to die with Policelli, 19, a fellow student he met at the University of Tampa.

"I thought we had done something wrong. Killing a child for no reason," he told detectives.

After leaving the hospital for the Orient Road jail, Dorisme was placed on a 24-hour suicide watch, said Lt. Michael Sawyer. When a jail psychiatrist thought his condition had improved, the 24-hour watch was dropped and he was instead checked by a jail deputy every 15 minutes.

Still, Dorisme managed to attempt suicide twice by overdosing on prescription drugs that he either collected or borrowed from other inmates, sheriff's Col. David Parrish said Wednesday.

About 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dorisme was being discharged from the infirmary after recovering from his second overdose. While officials processed his paperwork, he seized the opportunity.

He bolted up a flight of stairs to the second floor and climbed to the top of the railing, Parrish said. He crossed his arms on his chest and dived to the concrete floor 16 feet below.

"He drew his arms in and tucked on purpose so that he could land on his head," Parrish said. "Other inmates yelled, "No, don't do it.' The officer looked up in time to see him dive off the railing."

He died at Tampa General from massive head injuries, said Dr. Mark McCormick of the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office. He suffered skull fractures and a broken shoulder and cracked ribs.

In his interview with detectives four days after Policelli's murder, Dorisme explained why he believed he had to kill himself and his ex-girlfriend.

Policelli had been living with him when she got pregnant, he told detectives. He wanted her to have their baby, even if that meant going home to Pennsylvania to live with her parents. Dorisme said Policelli told him she would have the baby, but then moved out. The next time he saw her, a week later, she told him she had gotten an abortion.

"From then I just couldn't live anymore. I just couldn't sleep," Dorisme said. The day Policelli died, Dorisme said, the two met after class and drove around in her car, just talking. But they began to argue and he told her how he had been hearing voices and thought he was going crazy. The whole time, he had the 6-inch knife in his pocket.

"I mean, I fell apart," he told detectives. "All I know is I did it. I stabbed the only girl I ever loved."

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