Woman found not guilty in son’s death by reason of insanity

A Zachary woman who considered the deceased pop artist Aaliyah a goddess and set up an altar to her in her home was committed Thursday to the state hospital in Jackson after a judge found her not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2012 killing of her 2-month-old son.

The infant, Prince Javeion Deshaun Brown, was found in an area of shallow water in a field near Sabrina Maiden’s home. In addition to the altar to Aaliyah, several dozen upside down crosses were set up in Maiden’s home.

A psychologist and two psychiatrists testified at a sanity hearing in November that Maiden, now 23, was not sane at the time of the April 2012 incident.

Maiden’s court-appointed attorney, Margaret Lagattuta, said Thursday outside the 19th Judicial District Courthouse that Maiden is delusional and a paranoid schizophrenic.

Lagattuta was asked by reporters if Maiden is remorseful for what happened to her son.

“I don’t think I can answer that. I’ve never asked her,” Lagattuta said. “She knows the baby’s dead.”

“It has never been a whodunit in my estimation. It was her,” she acknowledged.

Inside the courthouse, East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Steve Danielson told state District Judge Chip Moore that prosecutors had no objection to the judge declaring Maiden not guilty by reason of insanity.

Moore’s ruling means Maiden can never be prosecuted in the death of her infant son.

“It is over for this defendant,” District Attorney Hillar Moore III said outside the downtown Baton Rouge courthouse.

“She’s done. She goes to the hospital,” Lagattuta added. “She has her issues. It’s the best outcome for her. It’s better than jail.”

The judge will review Maiden’s status every six months to determine whether she poses a danger to herself or others. The first review is set for June 25.

“She’s on some really expensive medication,” Moore said. “I expect she’ll be on that for some time.”

Maiden was arrested April 10, 2012, and booked on a first-degree murder count. Moore’s office charged her with manslaughter in May, at which time she pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

Dr. John Thompson, a psychiatrist, testified at a Nov. 13 sanity hearing that Maiden — who had a strong family history of schizophrenia — described to him a feeling that she was being influenced by a goddess named Aaliyah and by a religious belief system that was separate and apart from normal religious belief systems.

“The photographs of the house were compelling. All the windows had plastic bags on them. There were upside down crosses, Blackbird black was printed all over the walls,” according to a transcript of his testimony. “When I asked her about that, she said because the blackbird delivered a message from Aaliyah.”

The pop star Aaliyah died in 2001 in a plane crash in the Bahamas.

Thompson also testified there were times when Maiden believed the baby was still in her belly and that God was going to restore the baby to life.

Dr. Jose Artecona, another psychiatrist, testified in November that Maiden believed her boyfriend was Emmanuel or God and that the goddess was Aaliyah. The altar to Aaliyah in her home included a picture of the singer, he noted.

“She felt that she was being punished at the time because she wasn’t breast-feeding,” Artecona testified. “So, she had this psychotic belief that because of her lack of breast-feeding, the baby was somehow damaged, and she thought she was being punished because of that as well. She experienced hallucinations telling her to kill the baby.”

Artecona also said Maiden told him she had a long history of marijuana use.

East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies found Javeion — the son of Maiden and Willie Brown Jr. — about 10 a.m. on April 10, 2012, in an area of shallow water in a field near their East Mount Pleasant Road home in Zachary after searching an area between U.S. 61 and La. 964 for about eight hours.

The search began after relatives of the missing infant called the Sheriff’s Office.

The call followed a fight between Maiden and Brown at the couple’s home in the 1200 block of East Mount Pleasant Road, sheriff’s officials have said. During the fight, Maiden left the home unclothed, walking away with the child. Maiden was found without the infant two hours later about a quarter-mile from her home in the 21500 block of Barsket Road.

The mother had multiple scratches and had been combative with a nearby resident, sheriff’s officials said.

Final autopsy results showed Javeion died from blunt-force trauma to the head, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark has said. The child suffered a traumatic brain injury and also injuries to his limbs.

The infant’s death was classified as a homicide.

Brown was arrested and booked into Parish Prison on various weapon and drug charges after deputies found guns and drugs inside the couple’s home while the search for their child was ongoing.

Hillar Moore said Thursday that no charges are expected against anyone else in the infant’s death.

Judge Chip Moore appointed a sanity commission in April 2012 to evaluate Maiden, and the following month she was found incompetent to stand trial. At an October 2012 sanity hearing, it was determined Maiden still lacked the mental capacity to understand the proceedings against her or to assist in her defense.

A doctor at the state hospital reported in late 2012 that Maiden was competent to proceed. Last January, at Lagattuta’s request, the judge appointed a sanity commission to examine Maiden again.