Mother accused of killing child in exorcism ruled fit for trial

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A woman in Nantucket, Massachusetts, accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter in an alleged exorcism attempt is competent to stand trial, according to a finding in Barnstable Superior Court on Thursday.

SouthCoastToday.com says

Dora Alicia Tejada, 26, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her daughter, Nicole Garcia, in March. Investigators allege that Tejada suffocated the girl in a failed exorcism, possibly stuffing a rose down her throat.

Barnstable Superior Court Judge Gary Nickerson determined Tejada was competent enough for trial after reviewing a report generated by Taunton State Hospital, where she had been a patient since her arrest.

After Thursday’s hearing, she was sent to the Barnstable County Correctional Facility, where she will remain without bail.

The ruling fulfills one aspect of the two requirements needed for prosecutors to bring Tejada to trial: They must show she is mentally competent and criminally responsible for her actions.

For a defendant to be declared mentally competent, he or she must be of sound mind and not suffering from a debilitating mental illness or psychological condition.

For a defendant to be deemed criminally responsible, he or she must be found to have been mentally competent at the time an alleged crime was committed.

Tejada will undergo an evaluation as to whether she is criminally responsible for her actions and is due back in Barnstable Superior Court on March 29 for a hearing on the results.

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This post was last updated: Dec. 16, 2016