A woman accused of cutting a baby from the womb of a pregnant teenager and passing it off as her own was incapable of knowing what she did was wrong, her defense attorney said Monday.
Christopher Patarini will try to convince an Allegheny County judge that Andrea Curry-Demus, 40, is not guilty by reason of insanity in the July 2008 death of Kia Johnson, 18.
Prosecutors contend Curry-Demus met Johnson at the Allegheny County Jail in July 2008; Johnson was visiting her unborn son's father and Curry-Demus was visiting her husband. Somehow, Curry-Demus lured Johnson, of McKeesport, to her suburban Pittsburgh apartment to steal the baby, according to prosecutors.
Johnson's body — bound with duct tape and wrapped in plastic wrap and a comforter — was found stuffed under a headboard, her mouth full of plastic wrap. The baby, Terrell Kian Johnson, survived the attack. He is living with relatives.
Curry-Demus is charged with homicide — which covers first-, second-, third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter — and kidnapping. Curry-Demus chose last week to have Judge Jeffrey Manning decide her case rather than a jury.
‘She had been planning this’
Patarini told Manning that Curry-Demus has a history of mental problems and that a defense psychiatrist will testify that she was preoccupied with delusions of being pregnant. Curry-Demus had a "break with reality," he said, and how she went about getting a baby was consistent with her severe psychosis.
Prosecutor Mark Tranquilli acknowledged that Curry-Demus has mental problems but said he would show that Curry-Demus knew what she was doing was wrong.
"She had been planning this for days," Tranquilli said.
Curry-Demus befriended Johnson with offers of clothes for her unborn baby and a ride home from jail — evidence, he said, of her plot to acquire Johnson's baby.
"She had been carefully constructing this web much like a spider," he said.
And, he said, he would offer evidence to show that Curry-Demus sliced the baby from Johnson while she was still alive.
Johnson died of combination of blood loss and suffocation. Curry-Demus wrapped Johnson's head in plastic and duct tape, which showed Curry-Demus intended to kill her, Tranquilli said.
He told Manning that the proper verdict would be guilty of first- or second-degree murder, but mentally ill. That would mean Curry-Demus would undergo mental health treatment and serve her life-sentence in either a mental facility or prison.