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Mom in decapitation case found fit for trial

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Posted at 6:20 PM, Sep 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-16 18:20:13-04

CINCINNATI — The 20-year-old mother accused of decapitating her infant daughter was found competent to stand trial Wednesday.

According to Triffon Callos with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office, Deasia Watkins will stand trial, charged with aggravated murder in connection with the death of 3-month-old Janiyah Watkins.

BACKGROUND: College Hill mom accused of decapitating infant daughter

Janiyah Watkins

According to Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco's report, the infant sustained multiple stab wounds to the right side of her face and head, and her “head was severed from her body."

When asked during a news conference how many stab wounds Janiyah sustained, Sammarco said she'd "lost count."

In the days following Janiyah’s death, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters called the case “one of the most disturbing…[he’s] ever seen in [his] life.”

According to court records, shortly after Janiyah’s birth last December, doctors diagnosed Watkins with post-partum psychosis, a condition characterized by the onset of psychotic behavior after childbirth.

Watkins spent the days following her arrest in Deaconess Hospital, where Deters said she looked “like a zombie,” before she was transferred to the Hamilton County Detention Center to go before a grand jury.

IN-DEPTH: Who is Deasia Watkins? Documents reveal troubled childhood

Nearly a month after her indictment by a grand jury, a judge ruled Watkins was not competent enough to stand trial, and order that she undergo more treatment while in custody.

Deasia Watkins appears in court last April, when she was initially deemed unfit for trial.

During multiple court appearances, Watkins was seen exhibiting blank stares, with little discernible reaction to her surroundings. Watkins’ attorney has argued in the past that she has no idea what’s going on around her.

Sammarco said post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis are both very traumatic experiences for mothers.

"There's a lot that goes on in your body after you have a baby," she said during a Tuesday press conference, "hormone changes to lack of sleep to everything else. If there's an underlying mental illness on top of that, it just really exponentially increases."

Hamilton County Job and Family Services had documented a troubled relationship between Watkins and her daughter in the weeks and months leading up to the infant’s death, presumably as a result of Watkins’ illness. Just over a month after Janiyah was born, Watkins was hospitalized at Deaconess. She was placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold after an incident on Jan. 24. Police responded that day to the home of James Brown, Janiyah's father, where neighbors told officers they heard Watkins screaming and the baby crying.

It was during that incident, court records state, that officers found Watkins high on marijuana and “speaking in tongues,” before they had to forcefully remove the infant from Watkins’ arms because she refused to let go.

Days before Job & Family Services officials took Janiyah away, Watkins was "speaking with demons," according to Hamilton County Juvenile Court records and a Cheviot police report.

Those same records also indicate that Watkins was prescribed an antipsychotic medication called Risperdal as treatment, but it was unclear whether she was actually taking it.

Hamilton County court records indicate Watkins will appear in court again next month.