The Times Herald (Norristown, PA)
Accused double-killer to wage insanity defense
Naseema Sami charged with killing Lila Frost, 78, and Lorraine Gigliello, 68, in West Norriton Township
NORRISTOWN » A Delaware County woman was “convinced that she was Jesus, God was talking to her and that people were following her,” in the weeks before she allegedly fatally beat two women inside a West Norriton residence, according to court documents filed by her lawyer.
Naseema Sami was experiencing symptoms of severe mental illness related to a delusional disorder, including “psychotic beliefs and intense paranoia” at the time of the alleged March 7 slayings of Lila Frost, 78, and Lorraine Gigliello, 68, inside Frost’s West Norriton home, defense lawyer Carrie L. Allman argued in court papers.
Allman filed a notice of an insanity defense on behalf of Sami in Montgomery County Court.
“Although Ms. Sami appears to have understood the quality of her actions at the time of the offense, her ability to understand the nature/ wrongfulness of her actions was significantly compromised due to her severe mental illness,” Allman, the chief homicide lawyer for the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office, wrote.
To explain the nature and extent of Sami’s alleged insanity, Allman proposed to call Dr. David DeMatteo, a
forensic psychologist who evaluated Sami, as well as several of Sami’s relatives during Sami’s upcoming trial.
Sami, 44, of the 200 block of Folsom Avenue in Folsom, faces two counts each of first- and thirddegree murder as well as charges of criminal trespass, possessing an instrument of crime and tampering with evidence in connection with the alleged double-murder. Her jury trial is set to begin Dec. 3 before Judge Richard P. Haaz.
Sami’s brother allegedly told police Sami went to his place of employment on March 7 “because she did not feel safe and that she believed the government was following her,” according to court documents.
“(Sami’s brother) also stated that Ms. Sami had become concerned that people were following her after the singer Prince died and asked how to remove tracking devices from her car. He stated these concerns about car tracking arose in 2016,” Allman wrote in court documents.
Sami’s parents allegedly told police they had been concerned for about 10 years that Sami had been “acting unusual.” They described Sami “as being convinced that she was Jesus, God was talking to her, the government was following her…and that people were following her and taking pictures of her,” according to court papers filed by Allman.
“She also stated that the trees bow to her,” Allman wrote, adding Sami allegedly told a relative in 2016 that “a dentist had placed a tracker in her tooth.”
Relatives told police they researched mental health commitments and on March 7 one relative made numerous calls to crisis centers seeking help for Sami, Allman wrote.
Under state law, a person who is diagnosed as insane suffers from a mental defect that prevents them from knowing right from wrong or from realizing the nature and quality of their actions.
A person who is determined to be not guilty by reason of insanity at trial initially would be committed to a mental health facility for treatment and receive periodic evaluations. Once that person is deemed “cured” of mental illness they would be released from supervision with no requirement to serve any jail time.
Deputy District Attorney Thomas W. McGoldrick responded to Sami’s notice of insanity defense with his own notice of witnesses he intends to call “to disprove or discredit” the insanity defense. Those witnesses include Dr. John O’Brien, a forensic psychiatrist, who also met with Sami, according to court papers.
Earlier this year, a competency evaluation determined Sami was competent to stand trial.
Authorities alleged Sami’s 6-year-old son was with her at the time she killed the women inside Frost’s home in the first block of West Indian Lane in the Port Indian section of West Norriton. Sami also faces a charge of endangering the welfare of a child.
A conviction of firstdegree murder, which is an intentional killing, carries a mandatory life prison term. A conviction of third-degree murder, a killing committed with malice, carries a possible maximum sentence of 20-to-40-years in prison.
The investigation began
“Although Ms. Sami appears to have understood the quality of her actions at the time of the offense, her ability to understand the nature/wrongfulness of her actions was significantly compromised due to her severe mental illness.”
at 8:17 p.m. March 10 when West Norriton police responded to a neighbor’s call for a wellness check at the Frost residence and found the victims’ bodies. Sami and her son were found hiding underneath a bed in the residence, authorities alleged.
A joint investigation by county detectives and township police revealed that Sami, a former tenant of Frost’s, had gone to the residence on March 7 with the child seeking unspecified help. Finding no one there, Sami allegedly entered the unlocked apartment.
Sami, according to a criminal complaint, told investigators Gigliello stopped by and asked what Sami was doing at the residence. When Gigliello threatened to call police and reached for a phone, Sami allegedly attacked Gigliello.
“Sami knocked the phone to the ground and began to strike Lorraine with several blows to the face and chest,” county Detective John Wittenberger and West Norriton Detective
Charles Naber alleged in the arrest affidavit.
Sami allegedly told detectives she also used a broken tomato sauce bottle to slash and cut Gigliello.
Sami allegedly admitted to beating Frost to death when Frost came home in the midst of the attack on Gigliello.
“Sami stated she kicked Lila Frost into the bathtub and began kicking her in the head and neck until she died,” Wittenberger and Naber alleged.
Prosecutors alleged the victims suffered multiple injuries.
Sami’s son was present during the murders and also witnessed his mother’s attempt to clean the scene using bedclothes to wrap one of the bodies and more than 10 bottles of bleach, according to authorities.
The boy was interviewed at the Montgomery County Child Advocacy Center, Mission Kids, and is now staying with relatives, according to officials.
The deaths were the first homicides to occur in West Norriton since 1986, according to prosecutors.