Woman who drowned kids not guilty

/ Source: The Associated Press

A woman who told investigators she drowned her two children after receiving a sign from a spider was found not guilty by reason of insanity Monday and ordered to be committed to the state mental hospital for an indeterminate period.

Two defense psychiatrists and another testifying on behalf of prosecutors told a judge during an eight-hour hearing that Rebekah Amaya was insane at the time of the October 2003 drownings.

Amaya, who was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Grace Headlee, 4, and Gabriel Amaya, 5 months, had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

After several evaluations, psychiatrists had found her competent to stand trial but insane at the time of the slayings. Prosecutors said they were unable to prove otherwise.

Amaya, who did not speak during the hearing, can request a release after 180 days.

David Johnson of Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo and Karen Fukutaki of Denver Health Medical Center testified on behalf of Amaya’s defense.

The psychiatrists said Amaya said she thought there were evil spirits in the house and in her children and that killing them would set them free.

She also told psychiatrists that Gabriel told her to kill him saying, “‘Go ahead and do it mommy, get it done, get it done.”’

The prosecution’s psychiatrist, Park Dietz of Newport, Calif., who also evaluated Andrea Yates, the Houston mother who drowned her five children, said Amaya’s statement showed she was delusional.

“An infant this age said that? We all know that can’t be true,” Dietz testified. “She later expressed that she wasn’t sure what was true. She even asked if the children were alive after she killed them. Those are delirious perceptions.”

Police say Amaya told them she killed the children after getting a sign from a spider that crawled across her hand.