Windsor Township man is mentally unfit to stand trial in baby's death
A Windsor Township man accused of murdering a baby he allegedly despised almost eight years ago has been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial, according to The Associated Press.
Ummad Rushdi, 37, formerly of Castle Pond Drive, stands accused of first-, second- and third-degree murder, kidnapping, concealment of the whereabouts of a child, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
Doctors from Norristown State Hospital testified at a Delaware County hearing late last month that Rushdi's mental health isn't improving, making him unable to participate in a trial or accept a plea deal from prosecutors, according to The Associated Press.
Rushdi is accused of murdering Hamza Ali, his then-girlfriend's 7-month-old baby, on Aug. 4, 2013 and hiding the body, which has never been found, despite searches utilizing helicopters, search dogs and a dive team in York, Lancaster and Delaware counties.
Authorities said the child was kidnapped from Rushdi's parents' home in Upper Darby Township in Delaware County. Rushdi was arrested in August 2013 and placed in custody in Delaware County, where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Rushdi's case was moving forward until August 2017, when a Delaware County Court of Common Pleas judge, acting on a psychiatric examination, determined he was incompetent to stand trial.
Rushdi in 2018 was involuntarily committed to Norristown State Hospital, a state-funded psychiatric hospital near Philadelphia, where the case has since been revisited several times in court, with Rushdi deemed still incompetent to stand trial each time, according to court records.
Psychologist Jared Moore testified last month that Rushdi has paranormal and supernatural delusions and believes the “devil is trying to use the system to break him down” and that it would be best for Rushdi to stay at the state hospital, according to The Associated Press.
Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Wills agreed and said that while the criminal case will remain active should his condition improve, the state hospital is the safest place for him to be, AP reported.
The background: Rushdi in 2013 told investigators they would never find Hamza's body and claimed the baby died after he shook him, investigators said at the time.
Retired Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the effective conclusion of the case didn’t surprise him given the defendant's mental health issues, but he expressed frustration over the child’s disappearance, according to The Associated Press.
Police have said they suspect Rushdi drove Hamza's body back to York County or the Columbia area and hid it.
"We don't know what's left of the baby," Chitwood has said. "His exact words were, quote, 'The baby can't be retrieved.' ... What did he do? Did he dismember the baby? Did he burn the baby?"
Rushdi told investigators he only has to answer to God and bragged to Hamza's mother that he could get away with murder, officials have said.
Chitwood has said he suspects Rushdi beat Hamza to death and didn't want the child's bruised body found. He also said that detectives kept going after Rushdi, asking him for Hamza's location, but that Rushdi refused to say any more about where he allegedly hid the baby's body.
Hamza's mother, Zainab Gaal, testified at Rushdi's October 2013 preliminary hearing that he told her he wanted to "get rid of" Hamza, perhaps by driving the baby to his grandmother's home in Maine.
"If not, I will throw him off a bridge before I get there. ... I can get away with murder," Rushdi allegedly told Gaal.
Rushdi allegedly told detectives, "When I get out of jail I'm going to dig him up and I'm going to bury him in my backyard," police have said.
'Idiot baby': Gaal testified that Rushdi would refer to Hamza as "an idiot baby" and "a negative-energy baby," and would tell her that Hamza "doesn't belong here."
Two people contacted police to say that about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 4, 2013, they were waiting for a church bus near the intersection of Routes 30 and 441 in Columbia, Lancaster County, when Rushdi approached them carrying a plastic bag in one hand and a Quran in the other, according to court records.
He told them his car broke down and asked for a ride, then ended up going to church with the witnesses and attending a Sunday school class with one of them, but left during a prayer session, police have said.
"The defendant left the room and proceeded to sob very loudly in the hallway outside the Sunday school room" and was seen on his knees, crying, court documents state.
— Senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo contributed to this story.