BRATTLEBORO — A person accused of killing a shelter coordinator with an axe on April 3 was deemed not competent to stand trial on a count of first-degree murder and will remain in the custody of the Vermont Department of Health until capable of standing trial.
On Wednesday afternoon, Windham Superior Court Judge Katherine Hayes accepted a psychiatric evaluation conducted on Zaaina Mahvish-Jammeh, 38.
“The Court finds that the defendant currently suffers from major mental illness,” a stipulation issued by Hayes on Wednesday said. “As result of that major mental illness, defendant is not presently competent to stand trial.”
On April 3, at just past 9 in the morning, Mahvish-Jammeh entered Groundworks Collaborative’s Morningside Shelter on Royal Road in Brattleboro and killed Leah Rosin-Pritchard, the shelter’s coordinator, with an axe.
Mahvish-Jammeh was taken into custody shortly after the killing and has been in the custody of the Department of Mental Health after a short detention by the Department of Corrections.
Following a psychiatric evaluation at a secure facility in Montepelier conducted by Ariana Nesbit, a forensic psychiatrist from InnovaTel Forensic Evaluation Services, Mahvish-Jammeh, who was a resident of Morningside Shelter, was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder with psychotic features, presenting as manic during the evaluation.
“Mx. Mahvish-Jammeh’s delusional beliefs prevent them from being able to assist their attorney in a rational defense strategy,” wrote Nesbit. “Because their understanding of the events leading up to their offense and the roles of the legal system and court participants are all wrapped up in their delusional belief system, they will be unable to rationally assess the likely outcomes of their trial, weigh the evidence against them, or rationally weigh the risks and benefits of various pleas and plea bargains.”
In addition to conducting two in-person evaluations, Nesbit also reviewed a number of documents from a court screener, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital.
Mahvish-Jammeh, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them prounouns, “expresses delusions that Donald Trump is actively harming specific populations of people (unwed mothers, LGBT people, kids, black people) and is working through social services,” wrote Nesbitt, adding “Zaaina reports Trump has responsibility for her stomach tumors.”
Mahvish-Jammeh denied to a court screener thoughts of suicide because “I don’t have to, everyone else is trying to hurt me,” and they “endorse thoughts of homicide” towards people trying to stop them and holding money from them.
Mahvish-Jammeh identified the victim as one of those people.
At the time of the killing, Mahvish-Jammeh was wearing overalls and a bunny ear headband. While in the holding cell at the Brattleboro Police Department, she was seen by officers eating toilet paper, state court documents.
According to the evaluation, Mahvish-Jammeh also claims to have Havana Syndrome and has had a spinal tap and foreign bodies, including malware, placed in various organs by Donald Trump.
Mahvish-Jammeh also accused “hamster baiters,” people who “rape animals and kids,” of trying to harm them. Mahvish-Jammeh also claimed to have a spinal tap that was installed by the CIA and that Vladimir Putin keeps track of her via the tap.
Mahvish-Jammeh said they were born in Frankfurt, Germany, and moved to the United States as a child. They also claimed to have lived in Florida, Chicago, Plattsburgh, N.Y., and San Diego and graduated from high school in Queens, New York.
Mahvish-Jammeh also claimed to have changed their name in 2012 “because it was threatening my spirituality.” There is no mention of their given name in the evaluation.
“Mahvish-Jammeh did clearly state that they moved to Vermont on Juneteenth of 2022 because there are magic mushrooms and cannabis dispensaries here,” wrote Nesbit. “They noted that they were seeking these substances for the pain.”
When asked about the events leading up to their arrest, “Mahvish-Jammeh made many statements about these events that indicated that their narrative was obviously delusional in nature,” wrote Nesbit, who also conducted a “malingering assessment,” to determine if Mahvish-Jammeh was pretending to be mentally unwell.
“Brattleboro Memorial Hospital records indicate that Mx Mahvish-Jammeh presented as manic and psychotic prior to their alleged offense,” she wrote. “In other words, they exhibited these symptoms before they had an external incentive to appear manic or psychotic.”
Nesbit also diagnosed Mahvish-Jammeh with severe cannabis use disorder and moderate alcohol abuse disorder.
Hayes scheduled a conference in 90 days to check Mahvish-Jammeh’s status and determine whether she can be returned to the custody of the Department of Corrections and held without bail pending a trial.