*Psych Evaluations? Ya Think????*
*Psych Screening for Women Held in Kids' Deaths*
By Eric Tucker of Associated Press
January 21, 2014
The women face a possible life sentence if convicted, but a screening will first determine if they're mentally competent to stand trial.
ROCKVILLE, Maryland — Two women who police say killed two young children while performing what they thought was an exorcism will remain held without bond and will have psychiatric evaluations to determine if they are competent to stand trial, a judge said Tuesday.
The women, 28 year old, Zakieya Latrice Avery, and 21 year old, Monifa Denise Sanford, have told investigators that they believed evil spirits skipped successively between the bodies of the children and that an exorcism was needed to drive the demons out, said Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy.
The women also reported to investigators that they saw the eyes of each of the children blackening and, after the intended exorcism, took a shower, cleaned up the bloody scene and, "prepared the children to see God," McCarthy said. The children's two older siblings, a 5 year old girl and an 8 year old boy, were also found injured with stab wounds.
Edward Leyden, a lawyer for Sanford, told reporters after the hearing that, "everyone who is involved in this case is in deep pain."
The women identified themselves to investigators as members of a group known as the, "demon assassins," and police are looking to interview other people who might be part of the same organization but say there are no other suspects.
Avery and Sanford are charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of two of Avery's children, ages 1 and 2, as well as attempted murder. They face a sentence of life in prison if convicted.
"It obviously has details that are salacious and we just ask folks to give an opportunity for all of us to get a handle on just what happened here," Leyden said of the case, "so that when the time comes to present this to a judge and a jury, all of the facts are here."
A lawyer for Avery did not return a call seeking comment.
Avery had been living for months in a townhome community in Germantown - about 30 miles northwest of Washington - with her four children, and recently, with Sanford. Police responded to the home Friday morning after a neighbor called 911 to report seeing a car with an open door and a knife that appeared to have blood on it.
Once inside, officers found the bodies of the two children on the bed of the master bedroom. Their two siblings, a 5 year old girl and 8 year old boy, were found with knife wounds. The girl remains in critical condition but the boy was close to being released from the hospital as of Tuesday afternoon.
The timing of the 911 call likely helped saved the lives of the older children, police said.
"If that call doesn't come in, we don't think that those two children get medical help in time to possibly save their lives," said Capt. Marcus Jones, director of the county police department's major crimes division
Police were also called to the home on Thursday night, hours before the killings, after a 911 caller reported that a child was unattended in a car. By the time the police arrived, the child was no longer in the car and no one answered the door at a nearby home.
When being questioning by police, McCarthy said, the women told investigators that they tried multiple methods to remove the presence of demons from the children, progressing from an attempt to break the neck of the youngest child to strangulation to stabbing.
The father of the children does not live in the area but was returning to be with the surviving children, Jones said Sunday.
Avery was part of a dance troupe at a nearby Christian church where, "her job was, as a lover of Christ, was that she was going to keep demons away," Jones said.
"That was their goal," he said.
The question of whether either woman intends to submit an insanity defense has not yet been raised, and the two will first need to be examined by medical professionals and declared by a judge to be competent for trial.
"It's based on those stories, that information, that presentation and the psychiatric history ... that we made the recommendations that these two defendants immediately be seen by doctors to tell us where we stand in terms of competency as to both," McCarthy said.
I doubt the devil will be pleased! Lifers in prison certainly won't. The younger woman who helped her looks like she is either burnt or, pardon my ignorance, that disease where your skin is light and dark in different areas.
*Incubator of Children Feared the Devil*
January 19, 2014
Police charged two women on Saturday in the deaths of two children in Maryland, saying the women believed they were performing an exorcism.
GERMANTOWN, Maryland — A Maryland woman charged with killing two of her children has told investigators that she thought an exorcism was necessary to remove the presence of the devil and evil spirits, a police captain said Sunday.
Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28, of Germantown, is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of the children, ages 1 and 2.
Montgomery County police responded to Avery's home Friday morning following a neighbor's 911 call. Police said they found the two children dead and two other siblings, ages 5 and 8, injured with stabbing wounds.
"She thought the devil was in the kids, and that's sort of the thing she centered it around as to why she had to conduct an exorcism," said Capt. Marcus Jones, director of the police department's major crimes division. "She just thought that there were evil spirits within the kids."
Another woman charged in the killings, Monifa Denise Sanford, 21, made similar statements during questioning, police said.
Sanford was arrested Saturday. The two women had been living together at the house in recent months.
Jones said the father of the children does not live in the area and is separated from Avery, but was returning to be with the surviving children, who remained hospitalized Sunday.
Both women were being held without bond on charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder and are not expected to appear in court until Tuesday afternoon. Court records do not list lawyers for the women.
Police said officers went to Avery's row house community north of Washington, D.C., early Friday when a neighbor called 911 after noticing a car with the door open and a knife lying outside of the vehicle.
Officers recovered two knives from the home. The children died from multiple stab wounds, Jones said.
Jones said the women are believed to have met each other at a church, which he identified as Exousia Ministries in Germantown.
The pastor of that congregation, Darryl Jones, declined to discuss the case after services at an elementary school Sunday or even confirm that the women worshipped there.
"This is a tragic situation. We're keeping the family in (our) prayers and we are respecting the privacy of the family," he said.
Avery's stepgrandmother, Sylvia Wade, told The Washington Post that Avery was, "humble and meek," and said she loved her children.
"I don't know what triggered it. She wasn't herself. When a person is not of themselves, they are not responsible for what they are doing. They are in another zone."
So, who is reponsible?
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