...By Gift BADEWO for TDPel Media.
A homeless woman residing in a shelter in Vermont has been charged with first-degree murder after killing the coordinator of the facility with an ax and a knife.
The suspect, Zaaina Mahvish-Jammeh, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty as her public defender lawyer represented her.
The incident took place at the Morningside House, run by a group named Groundworks, where Mahvish-Jammeh purchased the ‘hunters ax’ two days before the murder.
The victim, Leah Rosin-Pritchard, was found dead in the kitchen of the facility, and she had injuries to her face, neck, and torso.
Mahvish-Jammeh was wiping her hands with paper towels when the police arrived.
Witnesses heard the suspect yelling, “I like you; it’s Leah I don’t like” before attacking Rosin-Pritchard.
The shelter’s security cameras captured the incident.
According to the criminal complaint, Mahvish-Jammeh specifically asked to meet with the victim before the attack.
The suspect had a history of violent behavior, and the shelter’s staff wasn’t trained to handle people with her level of mental illness.
Mahvish-Jammeh’s Arrest and Trial
Mahvish-Jammeh’s public defender lawyer represented her and entered a plea of not guilty during her court appearance in Brattleboro.
The suspect remained silent during the hearing.
Mahvish-Jammeh is currently being held without bail, and a judge has ordered her to undergo a mental evaluation as she may not be fit to stand trial for first-degree murder.
According to witnesses, Mahvish-Jammeh repeatedly attacked Rosin-Pritchard with an ax and a knife.
The witnesses yelled for the suspect to stop but were too afraid to get too close to her.
The incident was captured by the shelter’s security cameras.
The footage showed Mahvish-Jammeh entering the facility with a bed sheet over her shoulder and carrying an ax.
She wore a black hoodie, overalls, safety glasses, and black slippers.
After the attack, the suspect removed her clothes and was seen wearing a bunny ear headband, blue socks, and gray sweatpants.
Previous History of Violence
The witness alleges that Mahvish-Jammeh has a history of attacking people in the past, once with a wooden suggestion box and once with her fists.
The witness also stated that the shelter was not equipped to handle people with Mahvish-Jammeh’s level of mental illness.
Mahvish-Jammeh’s mental health problems were severe, and the staff was not trained to handle them.
Families with children lived at the shelter, which was described as not being set up to handle people with severe mental illness.
Mahvish-Jammeh had lived in Brooklyn, New York, and Orange County, California, according to online records.
She had a minor infraction in California, and the charges were dropped shortly afterward.
In 2020, she was interviewed by NBC5 in Upstate New York about Plattsburgh’s mask mandates, saying that she supported them because she liked to wear masks in her personal life.
She felt safe in Brattleboro and had been living at the Morningside House since the summer of 2022.
Statement from Groundwork Collaborative
Groundwork Collaborative issued a statement expressing their condolences for the loss of Leah Rosin-Pritchard, who they described as a wonderful, strong, positive, beautiful, and compassionate person who supported all Morningside House residents and professional colleagues with her spirit and skills.
They concluded by saying that Leah Rosin-Pritchard was irreplaceable, and there were no words to express the tragedy.