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Posted at 04:31 PM ET, 10/25/2011

Woman who allegedly stabbed victim outside a Target ruled mentally competent

Antoinette Starks, who allegedly stabbed a woman outside a Target store in Lanham earlier this month — six years after she attacked shoppers with butcher knives at a Bethesda Nordstrom — is mentally competent to stand trial, a Prince George’s judge ruled Tuesday.

Following a brief hearing, District Court Judge Patrice Lewis found that Antoinette Starks, 55, is competent to face assault charges in connection with the Oct. 11 attack in Lanham. In the latest attack, Starks allegedly wielded knives bound by tape.

In both the Lanham and Bethesda incidents, Starks attacked people she did not know with no provocation and no warning, authorities said.

Lewis made a fleeting reference to findings by a state mental health doctor that Starks is competent to face the charges. The findings were made in a report written by Dr. Robert Katz, a state mental health official, authorities said.

Starks sat at the defense table, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit with manacles on her hands and feet. She did not speak during the hearing.

The latest alleged attack by Starks prompted questions about a program that monitors violent people with mental health issues.

In August, over the protests of Montgomery County prosecutors, Starks was released from a state psychiatric facility, the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup, to a group home in Bowie.

Starks had been sent to Perkins after a 2005 incident in which she vaulted over a Nordstrom customer service center and tried to stab employees, according to court records in a civil lawsuit.

She stabbed one shopper eight times, and stabbed another woman from behind. An off-duty FBI agent who was at the mall brandished his service weapon and contained Starks, officials said.

The day before the Nordstrom attack, Starks had been released from prison after serving time for vandalizing cars and businesses.

Starks is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on the Lanham attack on Nov. 8.

By  |  04:31 PM ET, 10/25/2011

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