A judge declared on Thursday that Zakieya Avery, who called herself a demon assassin, was criminally insane in 2014, when she killed her two youngest children during what she thought was an exorcism.
The ruling means that Avery will be sent to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital, after being found as not criminally responsible for the crimes she committed.
The mother earlier admitted to killing her 18-month-old son Norell and her 2-year-old daughter Zyana, while additionally attempting to kill her 5-year-old daughter, Taniya, and her 8-year-old son, Martello.
Woman in ‘demon assassin’ case found criminally insane in her children’s deaths https://t.co/8VsZZkpUb4
— Ayahuda ❤ (@Ayahuda1) September 16, 2016
The ruling, stating that the woman was criminally insane at the time, came from Montgomery County Judge Terrence McGann, as the Washington Post notes.
“I find that Ms. Avery’s ritualistic albeit barbaric attempt to rid her children of demons is powerful evidence of her lack of rational thinking. [Avery]was methodical in her preparation and execution of her mission. The inescapable conclusion I draw is that she believed she was providing for her childrens’ salvation. What rational normal-thinking human being could possibly conclude that their children would be better off dead than alive?”
The actions, which were carried out inside a Germantown townhouse by Avery and her roommate, Monifa Sanford, shocked the region and the nation. The two women were immediately taken into custody and shared with detectives that they had been led to believe that the children had been taken over by demons, meaning they had to be killed to cleanse them of those demons so the children could go to heaven.
— Yung Fetti T (@YungFettiT) September 13, 2016
The confessions from the women were the beginnings of the groundwork that needed to be laid out in order to assess that there were mental issues at play. In 2014, the women were evaluated separately in regards to their mental state while at Clifton T. Perkins forensic psychiatric hospital in Jessup, Maryland. The big question was focused on what their mental state was at the time the crimes were committed. Questions were asked, such as, “were they so delusional they didn’t know their actions were wrong?” and “was their mental illness at that point so severe that it overran any rational thoughts the women may have had, leaving it impossible for them to conform their conduct to the requirements of law?”
State doctors came to the conclusion that Sanford failed both those tests. They designated her “not criminally responsible.” A Montgomery judge then agreed to this and sent the roommate to confinement at Perkins psychiatric hospital. When it came to Avery, doctors reached different conclusions. Doctors stated that Avery knew was she was doing was illegal because she took steps to avoid any consequences, like running out the back of the townhouse after committing the crime.
Avery’s lawyer, Brian Shefferman, disagreed that Avery understood the legality of her actions. At the court hearing on Monday, Avery pleaded guilty to the crimes, admitting she killed her children, yet stated that mental illness was the reason she went ahead with it and therefore she should not be held criminally responsible. The plea then led to a trial without a jury, simply with Judge McGann who ruled that Avery was, in fact, criminally insane at the time.
As the Washington Post earlier reported, Avery kept a journal leading up to the intended demonic assassinations. The behaviors prior to and during the act, as well as the words written in the journal, were all evidence enough to verify Avery’s claim that McGann ruled appropriately.
“We live is a society where we have a surface of demonic demons lurking over the world,” read an entry less than a month before the January 2014 attacks. “They’re in our clothes, our shoes, computer chips, radio, all of the things we live in.”
[Feature Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]