Deerfield Twp. woman not guilty due to insanity in child stabbing case will remain in custody

Dec. 28—A Warren County woman who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the stabbing of a 3-year-old boy will continue to be confined in a Cincinnati mental health facility.

A six-month review was recently held in Warren County Common Pleas Court on the status of Xiaoyan Zhu, 48, of Deerfield Twp. Zhu was found not guilty by reason of insanity after a bench trial in May on charges of attempted aggravated murder and two counts of felonious assault of the child on March 4, 2021.

She has been in the custody of Summit Behavioral Healthcare, one of Ohio’s six regional psychiatric hospitals operated by the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said the review hearing was required by state statute.

“Summit’s evaluation did not recommend any changes to her commitment,” Fornshell said. “The defense stipulated to the report and did not request their own evaluation.”

He said Judge Donald E. Oda II found that “Ms. Zhu remains a mentally ill person subject to the court’s jurisdiction and that Summit remains the least restrictive placement consistent with her treatment needs and the protection of the public.”

Fornshell said the next statutory review will be at two years, but the hospital or defendant can request a hearing sooner to change the conditions of confinement.

She remains on Level III privileges: unsupervised movement within the facility, according to Fornshell.

“The next level would be planned supervised off-grounds activities,” Fornshell said. “I don’t know how soon she would be considered for conditional release into the community.”

Zhu was indicted in April 2021 on charges of attempted aggravated murder and two counts of felonious assault. She was accused of using 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.

In May, Oda said it was a difficult case and a tough decision. The main question was whether 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 and 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.

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

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.

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