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Deerfield Township woman accused of stabbing toddler found not guilty by reason of insanity

Posted at 5:57 PM, May 12, 2022

LEBANON, Ohio — A Warren County judge found a Deerfield Twp. woman accused of stabbing a 3-year-old not guilty by reason of insanity.

Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Oda II rendered his verdict Thursday after hearing closing arguments during the bench trial.

Xiaoyan Zhu, 47, who was dressed in a jail uniform during the trial, sat quietly as Oda announced his verdict. Zhu was indicted in April 2021 on charges of attempted aggravated murder and two counts of felonious assault. She allegedly used a ceramic knife to stab a boy, now 4, in the child’s driveway on March 4, 2021 as he was outside with his brother waiting for the school bus in their Charleston Park subdivision.

While all three psychologists who examined Zhu agreed she had serious mental health problems, one psychologist said she understood and appreciated the wrongfulness of her actions.

Oda said it was a very difficult case and a tough decision. The main question was if Zhu understood the wrongfulness at the time of the stabbing. He noted Zhu had no previous incidents with police and she believed at the time she was under attack was under the influence of her disease until she was confronted by the boy’s mother.

Oda ordered Zhu to remain in custody at the Summit Behavioral Center pending a further hearing to determine her treatment.

The incident was reported by Zhu’s daughter during an online Mason classroom session to a teacher, who then called 911. During testimony by Deputy Trent Barker, Zhu’s daughter told her teacher that she thought her mom stabbed someone.

The boy’s mother said she heard screaming and saw her next door neighbor standing on her driveway and stabbing her son.

During opening statements, Assistant Prosecutor Travis Vieux said Zhu showed a rational thought plan and said the inability to control one’s behavior is not a defense under Ohio law. He urged the court to find her guilty of the charges.

Defense Attorney Nicholas Graman said the court should find her not guilty by reason of insanity. He noted that all three doctors who have examined Zhu said she suffers from severe mental illness and did not appreciate the wrongfulness of her actions. Graman said Zhu did not flee, conceal the knife, and was compliant with police. He said Zhu was penalized from being compliant.

During testimony, the boy’s mother said the boy went outside with his brother to wait for the school bus in the driveway as she assisted getting her daughter ready for school. As the boys were outside, the mother heard one of the boys ask Zhu what she was doing. When the mother rushed to the door to see what was going on, she saw Zhu standing with the knife in her hands over the child who was on his hands and knees.