Alleged sect killer fit to stand trial

Herald Sun/September 25, 2003

A mother accused of letting her infant son to starve to death because her husband believed it was God's prophecy has been found competent to stand trial.

Karen Robidoux is charged with second-degree murder in the 1999 death of her 11-month-old son, Samuel, and faces life in prison if convicted.

Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Donovan's ruling came after psychiatrists determined Mrs Robidoux was now competent to stand trial, according to prosecutors. No trial date was set.

Mrs Robidoux's initial trial was delayed after experts said she was too emotionally distraught. Since then, she has received psychiatric treatment.

After the ruling, Mrs Robidoux was moved from a state hospital to sheriff's custody, a spokesman for the Bristol District Attorney's office said.

Joseph Krowski, Mrs Robidoux's attorney, said he hoped Robidoux's condition would remain stable without the constant attention she has received in recent months.

"If her strength holds out, we should be able to get the trial preparation done," he said. "My concern is outside of that (hospital) environment, how is she going to flourish?"

The accused's husband, Jacques Robidoux, was convicted of first-degree murder in the child's death, and was sentenced to life in prison in June 2002.

The couple were members of a small religious sect called "The Body," which rejects modern medicine.

Mr Robidoux, a leader of the sect, testified that he watched Samuel starve after his sister said she had a prophecy from God that Karen Robidoux should withhold solid food from the boy and only give him breast milk.

Prosecutors say the child starved over the next 51 days because Karen Robidoux had become pregnant again and stopped producing enough milk.

Mr Krowski has said she is not criminally responsible for Samuel's death because she was brainwashed.

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