A woman accused of murder in Irvington NJ will not be allowed to use a religious cult exemption as a defense to the charges.
The 34-year-old suspect allegedly killed her daughter in 2011. The victim’s body was discovered on May 22, 2011. At the time, the victim was suffering from severe malnourishment and had a broken leg.
The suspect’s attorney had appeared in Essex County Superior Court in Newark NJ and argued that the suspect was under a spell from her pastor at the time of the homicide.
The superior court judge rejected the defense attorney’s argument. The judge said that a person “who is capable of making knowing and intelligent decisions would have understood the gravity of the situation.”
The judge also ruled that an expert will be allowed to testify at the trial with regard to the suspect’s mental health.
If the suspect is convicted, she faces severe penalties. As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3, murder is the most serious criminal offense in the NJ Criminal Code. A conviction on first degree murder charges could lead to a sentence of life imprisonment in New Jersey State Prison, with a minimum sentence of 30 years. Additionally, anyone convicted of killing a juvenile under the age of 14 is ineligible for release on parole.
To learn more about this case, read the NJ.com article entitled “Mom Accused of Killing Daughter, 8, Was Under Pastor’s ‘Delusional Spells,’ Attorney Says.”