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Mental Evaluation Ordered For Women Accused Of Killing Kids During Exorcism

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The two Maryland women accused of killing two children in a bizarre ritual are being ordered to undergo psychological evaluation.

Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28, and Monifa Denise Sanford, 21, made their first appearance in court Tuesday for a bond hearing. Court records claim the pair believed evil spirits moved successively between the bodies of Avery's four children, provoking the couple to perform an exorcism on the siblings, killing the two youngest, ages one and two.

In court, Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy says the women continued to describe the scene following the ritual, as they both showered and, in their words, "prepared the children to see God." Avery and Sanford also identified themselves as members of a group called "Demon Assassins."

Police are hoping to interview other members of that organization. Both women are charged with first-degree murder in the two deaths. Investigators say the two older children also might have died if a neighbor hadn't called 911.

At the close of Tuesday hearing, the judge denied bail and ordered the women, who face a possible life sentence, to undergo psychological screening to determine if they are mentally competent to stand trial.

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