Psychiatric examination ordered for student in ‘witch’ case
FERNDALE — A student accused of assaulting a teacher with water and a lighter because he believed she was a witch who needed to be purified was ordered Thursday to undergo a psychiatric examination to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.
Darin Najor, 20, of Ferndale is charged with misdemeanor assault and battery in the Sept. 11 incident at Taft Education Center, an alternative high school located at 427 Allen. Police said Najor targeted the English teacher after she had assigned “The Crucible” — an Arthur Miller play dealing with the Salem witch trials of 1692.
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Najor, who was expelled from school after the alleged assault, is next scheduled for arraignment and a pre-trial hearing at 11 a.m. Nov. 18. Police said he poured a non-flammable liquid on the teacher while she was working at her desk, and he was carrying a large green barbecue lighter.
The assignment to read and discuss “The Crucible” eventually set Najor off, Ferndale Detective Ken Denmark said. “The teacher had been lecturing about the play and talking about the Salem witch trials in class for a while before he assaulted her.”
The teacher told Najor she didn’t believe in witchcraft when he questioned her the day before the alleged assault. She explained the play was a metaphor for persecution, police said.
Najor on the following day came up behind the teacher chanting what sounded like religious verses and poured a liquid over her from a Gatorade bottle, police said.
“He said she was a witch and he was trying to purify her,” said Denmark, adding that Najor was also holding the barbecue lighter at the time.
Najor ran from the room and the teacher got a security guard and followed him outside where he was smoking a cigarette. Najor ran at the teacher and said he was going to burn the witch, but he was restrained by the security guard, Denmark said.
Police arrived and arrested Najor, who was ticketed and posted a $250 cash bond.