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Baltimore mother who killed children deemed not criminally responsible

Alex Mann, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

A Baltimore prosecutor was baffled when a report by state psychiatrists about the sanity of a mother who killed her two young children in 2021 seemingly dismissed the woman’s bizarre behavior leading up to the kids’ deaths.

The forensic doctors with the Maryland Department of Health believed Jameria Hall left a burner on to set fire to her apartment to conceal evidence of her children’s deaths, saying that suggested she knew killing them was wrong and thus was sane at the time, the prosecutor, Tracy Varda, said in court.

But the doctors’ conclusion glossed over a brush found in a pan on the stove, Varda said. Hall told investigators she cut off the children’s hair because she thought it “controlled them” and placed hair in the pan along with a brush to “break the spell” she believed relatives had cast on her kids.

That was one of what Varda described as several questionable interpretations by state doctors of evidence in the gruesome August 2021 killings that led the prosecutor to hire an expert to evaluate the state psychiatrists’ work and ultimately support the defense’s position: Hall was suffering from a mental disorder at the time and should be found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.

Hall, 31, pleaded guilty to two counts each of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the deaths of 6-year-old Da’Neria Thomas and 8-year-old Davin Thomas. A judge at the same April hearing found Hall not criminally responsible, ordering her committed indefinitely to the health department.

Retired Judge Gale E. Rasin, who presides over Baltimore Circuit Court’s Mental Health Court program, said Hall suffered from schizoaffective disorder, depressive type — a thought, delusional and mood condition — and found she “lacked the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of her conduct and … conform her conduct to the requirements of law.”

 

People committed to the health department for crimes of violence go to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup, the state’s maximum security psychiatric facility. Eventually doctors could recommend Hall for “conditional release” because of successful treatment, but that decision would fall to a judge and prosecutors would have an opportunity to weigh in.

“Nobody today can tell you when, if ever, there will be a recommendation for you to be conditionally released,” Rasin told Hall, before asking whether she understood.

“Yes,” Hall responded.

‘Mommy, no!’

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©2024 The Baltimore Sun. Visit at baltimoresun.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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