Accused killer incompetent to stand trial

For now, defendant in Morningside murder is deemed delusional and is in the custody of the Department of Mental Health

BRATTLEBORO — A judge has found Zaaina Asra Zakirrah Mahvish-Jammeh, charged with murdering their social worker at the Morningside House shelter last month, temporarily incompetent to stand trial.

The state can request a new competency evaluation, according to an order regarding competency signed by Superior Court Judge Katherine Hayes. A status conference is set for Aug. 9.

Mahvish-Jammeh is charged with first-degree murder, accused of killing Leah Rosin-Pritchard, the social worker and shelter coordinator at the Morningside House shelter at 81 Royal Rd. They pleaded not guilty.

Mahvish-Jammeh, 39, allegedly bought a hunting hatchet the weekend before using it to kill Rosin-Pritchard.

“The Court finds that the defendant currently suffers from a major mental illness,” Hayes wrote in her order, dated May 24. “As a result of that major mental illness, defendant is not presently competent to stand trial.”

A psychiatric evaluation from April, compiled by forensic psychologist Ariana Nesbit, found that Mahvish-Jammeh experiences mania and psychosis. The defendant's “delusional beliefs prevent them from being able to assist their attorney in a rational defense strategy,” Nesbit wrote in her evaluation.

Nesbit drew upon two interviews as well as court documents and medical records to reach her determination. Mahvish-Jammeh described facing persecution from former President Donald Trump, the CIA, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the evaluation.

“Mahvish-Jammeh's delusional beliefs involve the legal system and the courtroom personnel; they do not have an adequate understanding of the proceedings against them,” Nesbit wrote.

In her May 24 order, Hayes, the superior court judge, wrote that Mahvish-Jammeh is still held without bail but would not be subject to that order so long as they are in the custody of the Department of Mental Health.

Mahvish-Jammeh can remain hospitalized and in mental health custody for a maximum of 90 days under the current order.

If Mahvish-Jammeh is discharged from the custody of the Department of Mental Health, “then defendant shall be returned to the custody of the Department of Corrections,” Hayes wrote. A hearing must be held before Mahvish-Jammeh is discharged, according to the order.

“This criminal docket shall not be dismissed and remains active pending an adjudication on the merits,” Hayes wrote.

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