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Mass. woman found not guilty of girl’s death

May 16, 2013

NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) — A Nantucket woman authorities say killed her 3-year-old daughter because she thought the girl was possessed by the devil was found not criminally responsible because of mental illness.

Dora Tejada was found not guilty by a judge Wednesday in Nantucket Superior Court and ordered committed to a state mental health institution for six months of observation and treatment. She will be re-evaluated after that to determine whether she should stay in custody or be released with conditions.

Three forensic psychologists hired by the defense, prosecution and the court to evaluate Tejada all concluded that her extreme bipolar disorder and psychosis left her unable to understand her actions and conform her behavior to the law on the day she killed her daughter, the Cape Cod Times reported.

“Usually, with a lack of criminal responsibility, you don’t get three experts that agree,” James Caramanica, Tejada’s lawyer, said outside court after the verdict. “But this case was so clear to everyone involved.”

Prosecutors did not challenge the decision.

“All the evidence — the testimony, the physical evidence, everything — it all supported the experts’ finding in this case,” Assistant District Attorney Sharon Thibeault said

Tejada, a housecleaner originally from El Salvador, suffocated 3-year-old Nicole Garcia inside their home in March 2011, authorities said.

Tejada told investigators God told her to push a rose in the girl’s throat to exorcise the devil. Tejada also shoved her fist down the girl’s throat, police said. A medical examiner determined that the cause of death was homicidal asphyxia.

During the three-day trial, friends and relatives described Tejada as a loving and responsible mother whose religious convictions increased after she attended a retreat about a week before the killing.

One psychologist also noted that Tejada had suffered from chronic depression for about a decade and had a traumatic childhood in El Salvador.


Information from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, http://www.capecodonline.com

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