It was a tragic event that rocked the community, the county, and the nation, and today the mother responsible for the tragic events which left two children dead and two others wounded has to plead guilty to two counts of First-Degree Murder and two counts of Attempted First-Degree Murder.
Today Zakieya L. Avery, 31, stood before Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Terrance McGann in Rockville on Monday, Sept. 12 and admitted to killing her two youngest children, 18-month-old Norell and 2-year-old Zyana in their townhouse on Cherry Bend Court in Germantown on Jan. 17, 2014, according to Ramon Korionoff, the spokesman for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The mother of four children admitted to killing the children with her roommate. She also admitted to trying to kill her to older children 5-year-old daughter Taniya, and 8-year-old son Martello, Taniya and Martello both survived the attack.
The two women called themselves “demon assassins” and believed they were performing an exorcism on the children.
Last year the roommate – Monifa Sanford, now 24 –pleaded guilty in January 2015 to two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder and was ruled criminally insane by a Montgomery County judge, an opinion based largely on findings of state psychiatrists. The judge sent Sanford to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital.
According to Korionoff, Judge McGann “will make his determination on whether this defendant can be held criminally responsible based on the testimony of experts and witnesses some of whom will testify tomorrow in Courtroom 8C.”
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.
Photo courtesy State's Attorney's Office.