The mother accused of killing two of her children and attempting to kill two others was in court today for a status hearing on her trial.
Zakieya Avery is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with an incident which took place in January 2014 in the Cherry Bend Road townhouse in Germantown. On Jan. 17, 2014, police say Avery and a friend, Monifa Sanford stabbed Avery’s two young children to death and wounded Avery’s other two children.
The two women called themselves “demon assassins” and believed they were performing an exorcism on the children.
Avery’s trial date had been set for June 24, but in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Thursday Avery’s attorney, Brian Shefferman of the District 6, Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office requested the court grant him more time to prepare his case.
Shefferman told Judge Terrance J. McGann that the psychiatric doctors who are supposed to assess Avery have not completed their report yet. Judge McGann set a new trial date of December 14 in an effort give both the defense and the state adequate time to review any reports from psychiatric experts.
In Maryland, a defendant can be found criminally insane if mental illness keeps them from understanding that they are committing a crime. Last year, a state psychiatrist concluded that Sanford was legally insane at the time of the killings, but a different state psychiatrist determined that Avery was legally sane.
Although Avery remains in custody under psychiatric care at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, she has not been found to be criminally insane at the time of the crimes. Avery did not speak in court and the Judge did not address her directly.
In January, Sanford pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Sanford was ruled criminally insane at the time of the murders in January and committed to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a maximum-security psychiatric hospital, until it is determined that she is no longer a danger to the public. She could spend the rest of her life at Perkins.
Photo courtesy MCPD.