Trial dates set for women accused in Germantown excorcism slayings -- Gazette.Net


Trial dates were set for Germantown roommates charged in a botched exorcism that left two young children dead.

Zakieya Avery, 28, and her roommate Monifa Sanford, 21, the self-proclaimed “demon assassins,” were in Montgomery County Circuit Court for a hearing Friday.

A five-day trial is scheduled to begin July 28 for Avery. Sanford’s trial is scheduled to start Aug. 25.

Sanford and Avery were indicted on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

On Jan. 17, police found Avery’s children Norell Harris, 1, and Zyana Harris, 2, stabbed to death in the master bedroom of her Germantown townhouse.

She and Sanford later told police they stabbed the children because they were possessed by demons. Avery’s two other children were seriously wounded, but they survived.

The Gazette is withholding the names of the surviving children because they are minors.

Handcuffed and wearing cardigan sweaters, the women appeared separately before Judge John Debelius III, not saying much during the hearing. They were being held at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a maximum-security psychiatric hospital in Jessup.

Defense attorney David Felsen said he planned to file a plea of not criminally responsible on Sanford’s behalf.

Brian D. Shefferman, Avery’s attorney, could not be reached for comment after Friday’s proceedings.

If convicted, the women face a maximum sentence of life in prison.