PITTSBURGH – The suspect accused of cutting an infant from a woman's womb was found mentally competent by a judge Thursday to assist in her defense, despite a psychiatrist's testimony that she is a paranoid schizophrenic.
Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning disagreed with the psychiatrist who evaluated Andrea Curry-Demus, 38, of Wilkinsburg.
"At this point, I'm satisfied that she appears competent," Manning said after listening to Dr. Christine Martone and defense attorney Angela Carsia.
Manning asked several basic questions of Curry-Demus, including whether she understood the charges against her.
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"Homicide," replied Curry-Demus, who appeared for the hearing via videolink between the courthouse and county jail.
Curry-Demus is charged with homicide, kidnapping and related offenses in the death of Kia Johnson, 18, of McKeesport, who authorities said was 36 weeks pregnant. Curry-Demus then tried to pass off Johnson's newborn son as her own, authorities said.
Carsia said she was disappointed with Manning's finding and was considering her options. A preliminary hearing was still scheduled for Friday.
"I don't think she's capable of effectively assisting with her defense," Carsia told Manning.
Carsia said she had difficulty communicating with Curry-Demus when she met with her in jail for about 25 minutes on Tuesday. Carsia agreed with Martone's diagnosis that Curry-Demus was incompetent to stand trial.
Martone testified that Curry-Demus was a paranoid schizophrenic who had been hospitalized many times.
Curry-Demus was unable to give a coherent account of what she was charged with, is a danger to herself, and had poor insight and judgment, Martone said. Curry-Demus denied having auditory hallucinations, Martone said, but also "appeared to be responding to internal stimuli."
"Her judgment is psychologically impaired," Martone said.
Previously, Curry-Demus was diagnosed with major depression and a mixed personality disorder following two criminal cases.
In May 1990, several months after Curry-Demus said she had a miscarriage, she stabbed a woman in an apparent plot to steal her newborn, according to court records. The next day, she kidnapped a baby from a hospital, according to the documents.
Court records from those cases described her as obsessed with getting an infant and noted that she had auditory hallucinations of babies crying. She was twice briefly committed to a state mental hospital while the cases played out in court.
Curry-Demus pleaded guilty in January 1991 to kidnapping, concealment of the whereabouts of child and related offenses and was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison. She also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was placed on probation for ten years. She was released in August 1998.