Maryland woman committed to hospital for kids' exorcism slayings

September 15, 2016 12:33 PM EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A judge ordered a Maryland woman who killed two of her children in what she called an exorcism committed to a psychiatric hospital on Thursday, a prosecutor's spokesman said.

Zakieya Avery, 31, of Germantown, pleaded guilty this week to killing her 1-year-old son and daughter, 2, in January 2014 during a ritual she believed would drive evil spirits out of their bodies. Two of her other children were also injured.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Terrence McGann ordered Avery held indefinitely in a psychiatric hospital after declaring her not criminally responsible, the spokesman said. The "not criminally responsible" finding is Maryland's version of not guilty by reason of insanity in other states.

Avery had pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. The two slain children were stabbed and strangled.

Avery's housemate, Monifa Sanford, was ordered committed to a psychiatric hospital last year after pleading guilty to her involvement in the killings.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Dan Grebler)



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