An Australian man who identifies as a transgender woman defended himself in court on Thursday, claiming that he was either possessed by a demon or his mind was addled by drugs and therefore it was his body, not him, who attacked people at a 7-Eleven with an ax last year.
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Evie Amati, the 26-year-old suspect, does not deny being bodily present at the time, but claims his* mind was somewhere else. Amati allegedly attacked two people with an ax at a 7-Eleven on January 7, 2017. The suspect then reportedly swung the ax twice at a man outside who managed to avoid the blows. Amati has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including two counts of wounding with intent to murder.
In court, Amati’s lawyer Charles Waterstreet asked, “At that stage, had you any idea of the damage that you’d done to persons by your body’s actions?” To this, the defendant responded, “No.”
The court had previously heard that Amati could not remember the incident. On Thursday, the transgender suspect developed the drug and demon possession defense, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Amati said he smoked two joints of cannabis on the balcony, close to where the attack took place. He heard whispered voices after leaving a failed first date and wanted to sleep, but after smoking marijuana, the voices became louder. He took the second joint to “sedate” himself.
“They stopped being whispers. They started being actual words,” the suspect said. “I started seeing some of the violent visions I’d seen previously of me running at police with the axe and being shot dead.”
He recalled rocking back and forth, crying and listening to his favorite song, wanting the experiment to end.
His last memory before waking up in the hospital the day after the attack was sitting on the balcony, hearing a voice “that had been telling me to kill and maim and inflict pain on people and start the rise of hell on earth.”
“I recall everything going quiet and feeling that voice come inside me,” the suspect said. Then it gets really creepy.
Amati said he experienced his face smiling without being in control of the action. “I remember that smile, the smile that was not mine,” he recalled. “A sinister smile that plastered my face that I couldn’t control. And I black out.”
After the attack, he awoke in St. Vincent’s Hospital shackled to a bed with police nearby and realized “something very, very bad had happened.” Police told him he had been arrested and taken to the hospital after being found unconscious near the 7-Eleven.
The suspect said he first realized what “her body” had done when a custodial officer made a “flippant comment” about an ax and he saw a news report about five or six days later. “It was the worst day of my life,” he said.
“To think I’d put other people’s lives in danger made me feel so ashamed of myself. They were innocent. They did nothing to deserve what happened,” Amati said. “If I could take every one of those blows and put them on myself instead of someone else I would have done it a thousand times over.”
The suspect said he drafted an apology to the victims, but was told by a lawyer it would prejudice the legal proceedings.
Marijuana was not the only drug in Amati’s system before the attack. The suspect testified that he had gone to the home of a woman he met on Tinder and drank vodka with her and her housemate before all three took a pill they believed to be ecstasy.
The three had planned to head to a bar, but Amati fell into a “depressive episode” because he believed the girls had been discussing his transgender identity. He left the car and walked home.
Insanity pleas are common in violent cases, as they lead to more lenient sentences.
However, the Roman Catholic Church has reported an increase in the demand for exorcisms and recently held an exorcism training conference in Rome to meet this demand. Unofficial exorcism services are available online, and a “non-denominational exorcist” who does not belong to any particular religion has begun peddling services in Hollywood.
LGBT issues and demon possession/exorcism have a long history. Only recently, the drag performer Dusty Ray Bottoms recalled his parents arranging for an exorcism on the belief that he was possessed by a gay demon. Most LGBT people would vehemently deny the idea of demon possession in connection with same-sex attraction or gender confusion.
That history makes this defense quite interesting. Here is a man who identifies as a woman, who defends himself in court by saying he was possessed by a demon. If he is telling the truth — an unlikely prospect to be sure — that opens the door for questions about whether transgender identity makes someone particularly susceptible to demon possession.
Click “Load More” to watch footage of the violent attack:
*Note: This article refers to Amati as male because that is his biological sex. Whatever his transgender identity, Amati has a male body. Especially given his insistence that his body, not him, was involved in the crime, the idea that gender identity should trump biological sex seems rather suspect.