ROCKVILLE, Md. - A judge will need to decide if a Maryland woman, who pleaded guilty to killing two of her children during what she believed was an exorcism in 2014, is criminally responsible for her actions.
31-year-old Zakieya Avery pleaded guilty on Monday. Prosecutors said Avery's youngest child, 18-month-old Norell, was stabbed more than 20 times. 2-year-old, Zyana, was choked and stabbed in the chest and back.
Avery's attorney is making a case to the judge that she was not criminally responsible for her actions. If the judge agrees, she could be sent to a psychiatric hospital. If she's found to be sane, she could face four, consecutive life sentences.
Psychiatrists for the state concluded that at the time of the attacks, she did appreciate criminality, but an attorney retained by Avery's attorney, Brian Shefferman, came to a different conclusion. Court records show Avery had been hospitalized several times for mental illness before being arrested in the deaths of her children.
Avery's roommate, Monifa Sanford, who was also charged in the killings, previously took a plea deal in the case which found her not criminally responsible and committed her to a psychiatric hospital for an undetermined amount of time.