A Delaware County woman who beat two other women to death in the throes of paranoid delusion was found guilty but mentally ill in the slayings on Friday.
Naseema Sami, 46, of Folsom, will serve two life sentences in state prison without parole for killing Lila Frost, 78, and Lorraine Gigliello, 68, after a ruling by Montgomery County Court Judge William Carpenter. Sami attacked the two women after breaking into Frost’s home in West Norriton in March 2019, nearly two decades after she had rented a room there.
Sami’s attorney, Carrie Allman, told Carpenter after the trial that she was disappointed by his verdict, and said Sami should have been acquitted.
“Mental illness doesn’t come in a single form or single package,” Allman said. “The fact that Ms. Sami is educated and articulate and that her delusions only come in certain ways doesn’t make her any less mentally ill.
“She will spend the rest of her life in prison because we live in a state that believes people are not redeemable,” she added.
But prosecutors, led by Deputy District Attorney Thomas McGoldrick, said the guilty but mentally ill verdict was a just outcome.
“Clearly, the defendant is suffering from mental issues, without a doubt,” he said, calling the case “one of the most horrific crimes” he had handled in his career. “But also, her level of mental illness did not rise to the level of legal insanity, which is a very, very high level under the law.”
Sami has never denied killing the two women, first Gigliello, who stumbled upon Sami when she visited the home, and later Frost, who came home as Sami was attacking Frost’s best friend with her fists, and later, shards of glass from a broken pasta sauce jar.
Police performing a wellness check on behalf of Frost’s family found Sami and her 6-year-old son inside the home three days later, apparently living, and hiding, amid the bloody crime scene.
During the four-day bench trial, Allman contended that Sami suffered from a delusional disorder that made her believe she was constantly being pursued and watched by others. Her behavior in the days leading up to the slayings had become increasingly strange, her family said in testimony: She had accused her mother of being unfaithful to her father and of abusing her son, things she said she had been told “by God.”
When her brother learned of the abuse allegations, he contacted police. But when officers tried to contact Sami to set up an interview with the boy, she panicked and fled. Her brother attempted to calm her down, but when she drove to his office to meet him, Sami testified during the trial, he had been replaced by a “clone.”
Sami told the judge she then drove to Frost’s house, identifying it as a safe place for her and her son. But when Gigliello arrived, Sami said she could tell she wasn’t “the real Lorraine,” and had been replaced by some kind of “clone or bio-machine.”
Sami said she attacked Gigliello in self-defense, believing she was going to call the people who had been pursuing her. She also believed that Frost was dead, she said, and that the woman who walked into the home was another imposter.
“It was a very difficult fight,” Sami said. “I believed my life was in danger. I believed I was going to die.”
McGoldrick said that despite her delusion, Sami was aware she had committed a crime, and had taken steps to hide it. During the three days she and her son spent in Frost’s home, Sami cleaned up the crime scene with bleach, called her son’s school to tell them he wouldn’t be coming in for a few days, and sent text messages from Frost’s phone to her friends telling them not to come to her home.
“She knew what she did was wrong. She knew the police would learn the truth about what she did,” McGoldrick said. “She was not going to allow her lie to be exposed. That was what happened that day.”