ROCKVILLE, Md. — A Maryland woman pleaded guilty Monday to killing two of her children and badly injuring two of their siblings during what she believed was an exorcism in 2014.

Zakieya Avery, 31, and her roommate stabbed the four children on Jan. 17, 2014 because they believed killing them was the only way to rid them of demons. Prosecutors said Avery’s youngest child, 18-month-old Norell, was stabbed more than 20 times. Her 2-year-old, Zyana, was choked and stabbed in the chest and back.

“Satan will not take my kids,” Avery said during the attacks, according to a summary of the crimes prosecutors presented Monday in court in Montgomery County.

Two older children, ages 5 and 8, survived.

Avery’s attorney is expected to make the case she was not criminally responsible for her actions. If a judge agrees she could be sent to a psychiatric hospital. If she’s found to be sane, she could face four, consecutive life sentences.

Psychiatrists for the state concluded that at the time of the attacks, she did appreciate criminality, but an attorney retained by Avery’s attorney, Brian Shefferman, came to a different conclusion. Court records show Avery had been hospitalized several times for mental illness before being arrested in the deaths of her children.

Avery’s roommate, Monifa Sanford, who was also charged in the killings, previously took a plea deal in the case which found her not criminally responsible and committed her to a psychiatric hospital for an undetermined amount of time.

VIAThe Associated Press
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