Mom accused of poisoning kids found not guilty by insanity

Photo courtesy Virginia Beach Police.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach woman accused of trying to poison her children to death by crushing up medication and putting it in applesauce and ice cream has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

On Thursday, a judge found Lorita Aiken not guilty and ordered she be admitted to the state mental health system.

In November 2013, Aiken was accused of putting medication in her children’s food in an attempt to kill them. In February, Aiken pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of adulteration of food/drug/etc. with the intent to injure or kill.

Police say Aiken left a suicide note that read, “You will never hurt me or my children ever again!” Her husband came home and found all three unconscious. The children survived the incident.

In court Wednesday, the prosecution argued Aiken was not insane. They called to the stand the court-appointed forensic psychologist, Dr. David Keenan, who interviewed Aiken during four visits between January and February of 2014 (after her arrest). He said Aiken was able to distinguish right from wrong at the time of the attempted murder. However, Aiken’s family hired another clinical psychologist, Dr. Thomas Sugden, to formulate a second opinion. Sudgen testified Wednesday that he believes she was insane at the time of the incident. He testified that Aiken told him she was attempting to put the children to sleep to be with God in order to protect them from abuse. He opined that since Aiken knows murder is wrong, but believed that poisoning her children was the best thing for them, she could not at that time distinguish right from wrong.

However, the other psychologist, Dr. Keenan, testified he believed Aiken was “depressed and very angry at her husband and looked at suicide as a way out for her, of their marriage.”

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