D.C. woman charged with dismembering newborn ordered to St. Elizabeths

A 21-year-old District woman charged with suffocating and dismembering her newborn baby boy on Thanksgiving was found initially incompetent to stand trial and ordered Wednesday to St. Elizabeths Hospital, the District’s psychiatric hospital.

At a hearing in D.C. Superior Court, Judge John Ramsey Johnson ordered Lillian Alvarado to the hospital based on an initial review by city mental health experts, saying she would receive help there with learning and understanding “court procedure” and “mental health matters.”

Johnson ordered details of Alvarado’s mental health evaluation sealed, based on the request by Alvarado’s attorneys from the District’s Public Defender Service. Most of Wednesday’s hearing, also at the request of Alvarado’s attorneys, was held privately at the judge’s bench, out of earshot of the media and audience members.

Alvarado, dressed in a D.C. jail jumpsuit, stood next to a Spanish-speaking interpreter. Alvarado came to the United States from El Salvador about a year ago, family members said.

Last week, D.C. police arrested Alvarado — who lived with relatives in a third-floor apartment in the 6400 block of 14th Street NW — and charged her with first-degree murder and cruelty to children.

Authorities said police arrived at the apartment just before noon on Nov. 28 summoned by downstairs neighbors who had noticed blood-tinged water leaking through their ceiling. Coming out of the bathroom, Alvarado sat on a bed moments before officers found the body, and she said, “Forgive me,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Alvarado's next hearing is scheduled for March 21.

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Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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