PORTLAND (AP) – A woman who said she stabbed her 11-year-old daughter to protect her from an evil curse has been sent to a state hospital just one month after a judge determined her competent to stand trial.

Superior Court Justice Carl Bradford on Tuesday found Paula Tarbox not criminally responsible for stabbing her 11-year-old daughter, Carly, on July 5 because, he said, the woman had a mental disease. Bradford ordered Tarbox committed indefinitely to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The ruling ended the criminal case against Tarbox, who was charged with attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault. If she had been convicted, she could have been sentenced to as much as 40 years in prison.

Tarbox will stay in the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta until she can demonstrate that she poses no threat to herself or others. The case’s prosecutor agreed with the ruling and said Tarbox was going to the right place.

“I don’t know if you can say there is a good resolution to a case like this, but this is the best resolution,” said Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney Deb Chmielewski.

Tarbox, 40, has a history of mental illness, and has been involuntary hospitalized at least once, according to testimony at a competency hearing in December. She has been held at the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta since her arrest.

Tarbox allegedly planned to kill her four children, ranging in age from 2 to 16, to save them from a curse she believed her boyfriend had put on the family, police said. Her oldest daughter stopped her after she stabbed the 11-year-old.

Dr. Deborah Vaeder, the state’s chief forensic psychologist, has interviewed Tarbox on several occasions. She said during the hearing that Tarbox has a history of mental illness and has been hospitalized at least once.

Since her arrest, Tarbox has attempted suicide at the Cumberland County Jail and told Vaeder that she believed poison gas had been pumped into her cell.

Tarbox will be one of about 25 patients found not criminally responsible for serious crimes now housed in Riverview’s forensic unit.

Tarbox’s lawyer predicted that she will do well in the institution.

“This is what she needs,” said Thomas Greco of Portland. “She’s going to get treatment and I see her doing very well.”

AP-ES-02-02-05 0217EST



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