Woman who killed 2 children in 2007 will be committed

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A 23-year-old Augusta mother who stabbed her two children to death and was found not guilty by reason of insanity Wednesday told a doctor who examined her that she gave in to the voices in her head demanding she kill them.

Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet, who presided over Jeanette M. Hawes' case and conducted Wednesday's bench trial in Richmond County Superior Court, issued the verdict on the murder charges and ordered Ms. Hawes committed.

The only issue Wednesday was Ms. Hawes' mental state when she killed her children in November 2007.

To the two doctors who examined Ms. Hawes, it was clear she was insane at the time she killed Shakayla Hawes, 3, and Jordan Hawes, 1, in the bathroom of a Lumpkin Road convenience store.

She stabbed Shakayla 11 times over her heart, piercing it once, according to the autopsy report. The toddler had a cut on her hand consistent with a defensive wound. The boy had two cuts in the heart area and four small puncture marks on his chest. One of the cuts went through his heart, according to the autopsy report.

Susan Haverstock, a board-certified psychiatrist and associate clinical professor at the Medical College of Georgia, testified that she believes Ms. Hawes suffered a psychotic break common to people as they develop schizophrenia.

Ms. Hawes became paranoid and believed people she worked with at the post office were out to get her months before the killings. She began having crying spells and was laid off or fired, Dr. Haverstock found. Ms. Hawes began hearing voices, and in July 2007 she was prescribed an antidepressant because she was depressed, anxious and not sleeping well.

In the days leading up to the stabbings, the paranoia increased. She began a bizarre journey to Atlanta, back to Augusta and then to Aiken with her two children in tow, the doctor said.

The voices she had been hearing for months were now directing her actions, the doctor found.

On Nov. 29, 2007, she picked up a kitchen knife and walked about a mile with her children to the Texaco gas station on Lumpkin Road.

"I didn't want them to have to run anymore," Ms. Hawes told Dr. Haverstock. "I was trying to protect them ... to stop them from being chased.

"I heard voices in the bathroom telling me to stab my kids."

Psychologist Gordon Brown, who also evaluated Ms. Hawes, testified that he agreed Ms. Hawes was acting with a delusional compulsion and was unable to tell right from wrong.

Assistant District Attorney Philip Catalano said prosecutors looked at every piece of evidence that might indicate Ms. Hawes was sane but nothing countered the doctors' findings.

Defense attorney Barry Middleton asked the judge for the not guilty verdict, arguing that the evidence presented proved Ms. Hawes was not sane when she killed the children.

The judge agreed.

In the courtroom, Ms. Hawes sobbed into a pile of tissue as Mr. Middleton read the summary of the stipulation of the facts that she agreed to.

Ms. Hawes will undergo a mental evaluation within 30 days, and a report will be prepared for Judge Overstreet. State law gives the judge the responsibility to determine if and when a commitment to a mental hospital is no longer necessary.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (307) Add comment
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jajo1012
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jajo1012 01/09/09 - 10:07 am
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to BARONESS... if you went

to BARONESS... if you went through and read a majority of these comments, you might be appalled to. As for "winning over readers"? Now when the hell did this become a popularity contest? I'm not trying to when over anyone, I'm just a reader. I am not high and mighty, and I am not delusional. I was just very upset by a lot of terrible things being said. This kind of discussion is not healthy. Oh yeah, and BARONESS? don't call me "regi".

laprince
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laprince 01/09/09 - 10:16 am
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Some of you have No mercy on

Some of you have No mercy on a person that has a mental illness. It caused her to commit a horrible and unimaginable crime. A crime that you couldn't imagine yourself or any one ele doing. She wasn't in her right mind when she did it, I REALLY BELIEVE SHE WAS POSSESED by Demons BUT BECAUSE SOME OF YOU either don't believe in Mental illness or don't believe that she was out of her mind, then I believe that some of you must be out of your minds too to think that. There is a phase for people like you, it's called HATERS...

Lorraine
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Lorraine 01/09/09 - 11:05 am
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ksl, your point is well

ksl, your point is well taken. Everyone is certainly entitle to an opinion. Judging another individual is not the same as having an opinion.

o0Heather
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o0Heather 01/09/09 - 12:41 pm
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Mental illness is not an

Mental illness is not an excuse for what she has done. She is still responsible for the choices leading to this. Acting unstable "crying for help" as some say is not sufficient enough. She could have removed the children from her care and/or asked for help. It is her fault she let her "illness" drive her to the vile act. So regardless of the ruling she is still guilty imo. Obvioulsy she needs help but should not EVER be let out under any circumstance EVER again. There is no way to ever assure she wouldnt relapse.

eagleyes
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eagleyes 01/09/09 - 12:43 pm
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i think the verdict is crap.

i think the verdict is crap. there are many people who raise 2, 4, 6, etc. children by themsevles and don't go insane and kill their children. when this all happened she was upset about a boyfriend who didn't want her anymore and her dreams of becoming a model and her children getting in the way of her dreams...it was all printed in the paper and her relatives were the ones who said it. go figure?

Just the Facts Please
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Just the Facts Please 01/09/09 - 09:36 pm
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Sadly enough the real victims

Sadly enough the real victims in this case are those of us who are left behind to mourn the living and the dead. Judgment and justice are two separate things in this country. Mental illness is grossly misunderstood by the courts and by the general public. Two babes in arms are now no longer in the embrace of those that love them and are left with bitter memories. The mind and the condition of humanity devoid of right and wrong push us all to edge of questioning what could have been done and what should have been done. So grasping at straws laced with anger and anguish we search for reason where there will never be one other than insanity. Now a young woman will have to eventually face her terrible actions if in some way she can ever regain some semblance of reason in the vast emptiness of her now sordid existence.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 01/10/09 - 01:32 am
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I did skim most of the

I did skim most of the comments, the rest were pretty much par for the course, I've seen their good bad and ugly before. Should I call you regiz, instead of regi? Anyway, you're right, the discussion on the thread wasn't healthy. That's pretty much what I was getting at when I commented on your comments.. I guess I hit a nerve, but I usually only fuss at people I think there's hope for, so consider yourself someone I've got hope for still.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 01/10/09 - 01:37 am
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And as I said before, if I

And as I said before, if I had been 10 years old and someone shot my sister in cold blood right in front of me, then someone killed my brother's beloved dog, that combined with the kind of stress she was having in her life at the time might have triggered some issues in me. I don't think I would have been in my right mind either. I just don't go for this commenting and calling other people names for thinking they have a different opinion.

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