Judge rules mom ‘not criminally responsible' in exorcism deaths

No prison for exorcism murder mother

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - Calling her actions "brutal and sadistic," a Montgomery County judge declared a Germantown mother, that killed her two children in an exorcism, criminally insane.

Zakieya Avery made national headlines in 2014 for choking, stabbing, and killing two of her children because she believed they were possessed by demons.

The decision means that Avery will not be sent to a prison, and instead will be sent to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a psychiatric facility in Jessup, Maryland.

In an emotional description of the killings, Judge Terrence McGann declared that Avery was "delusional" and suffering from a mental illness at the time.

"It's difficult to fathom any mother committing filicide," he said.

The decision followed the advice of two psychologists who evaluated Avery.

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Avery's cousin, Kaliha Brooks, said that the decision to hospitalize Avery was welcomed by the family.

"It's bittersweet," she said. "We'll never really have closure [because] the children are still gone. Everyone is still coping."

Avery will likely spend her entire life in the hospital, although there will be periodic assessments of her risk level. State's Attorney John McCarthy said that her release was highly unlikely under his watch.

"As long as I'm state's attorney," he said. "We will be fighting to make sure that during the period of time that I'm state's attorney, she stays locked up."

Avery committed the brutal killings along with her friend, Monifa Sanford. The duo claimed that they were part of a group called, "Demon Assassins," along with their two imaginary boyfriends.

Sanford was also found to be criminally insane, and was sent to the psychiatric facility.

Brooks said that she was hopeful others could learn from their family's heartache. She urged people to look for the signs of mental illness in friends and family, so that action could be taken before tragedy strikes.

"I don't think America as a society takes mental health serious enough. This is happening too much on a global scale,” she said. “And I really don't understand why more isn't being done about it. Medicating somebody until their next episode is nothing more than putting a Band Aid on a bigger issue."


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