Md. mother charged with starving toddler, dumping her is found not competent to stand trial

Following a psychiatric evaluation, a judge has ruled that a Maryland woman accused of starving her toddler to death for more than three weeks and throwing her body in a dumpster, is not competent to stand trial.

Dr. Julie Smith also found that Kierra Tolson, of Silver Spring, was a danger to herself. The interview took place at the Montgomery County Detention Center in Rockville.

Tolson, 23, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 15-month-old daughter Blair Niles.

In a bond hearing Thursday, Distict Court Judge Carlos Acosta held the defendant without bond and ordered her committed to the health department for treatment and restoration to competency, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy told WTOP.

District Court Judge John Moffett had ordered the psychiatric diagnostic last week on Tolson, when he observed that there was something that suggested that she was not competent to stand trial.

Smith’s evaluation did not look at whether a defendant was sane at the time of a crime, but focused on whether the defendant understands the charges and can assist in readying a defense.

Typically, in a case in which a defendant is found incompetent to stand trial, the judge will order further testing and treatment at Clifton T. Perkins, the state psychiatric hospital.

Acosta set a status hearing six months out, assuming that it will take six months to restore Tolson to competency, through a regimen of psychiatric treatment and psychotropic drugs, McCarthy said.

However, there has been an outbreak of COVID-19 at Clifton T. Perkins, and there could be a delay in transferring Tolson from jail to the psychiatric hospital.

In charging documents, a Montgomery County police officer said Tolson, in an interview, admitted starving her child for 3 1/2 weeks. On June 17, when the toddler was dead, Tolson said she put her in a blue pillowcase, and discarded the child’s body in a dumpster at her apartment complex.

During a search of her apartment, a blue pillow case was observed on one pillow, while a second pillow was missing a pillow case.

The child’s remains have not been found.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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