A Cliffside Park father who grabbed his 3-month-old daughter by the ankle and fatally slammed her head against a stair railing was committed Friday to a psychiatric facility for life.
Peter Olmeda told investigators that “voices in his head were telling him [the baby] was the anti-Christ” when he killed her in front of her mother, Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer said.
Olmeda, 31, was found not guilty by reason of insanity at a hearing Friday in Superior Court in Hackensack, after two psychiatrists testified that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia at the time and experienced hallucinations.
Both psychiatrists said Olmeda, who has a long history of mental illness dating back to his 20th birthday, needs to be medicated and must remain in a psychiatric hospital for the rest of his life.
“It was tragic that due to his severe mental illness, his own child wound up being killed,” said Olmeda’s attorney, Brian Neary.
Prosecutors said Olmeda and his girlfriend, Stephanie Avans, had dinner at Olmeda’s home on Sept. 17, 2007. Olmeda’s father later drove Olmeda, Avans and the baby to Avans’ home in Palisades Park. Olmeda’s father stayed in the car while Olmeda and Avans walked toward the house, with Avans holding the baby.
Olmeda then asked if he could hold the baby and, grabbing her by the legs, bashed her head several times against an iron railing as Avans screamed in horror, prosecutors said.
Eye witnesses at first thought Olmeda was swinging some kind of object and did not realize it was an infant, Grootenboer said at the hearing Friday. The witnesses went after Olmeda when he tried to flee and held him until police arrived at the scene, she said.
Police said Olmeda had a knife when he was arrested.
Olmeda told a detective during questioning the next day that he killed the baby because the voices in his head told him to, Grootenboer said. He later attacked the detective during questioning, Grootenboer said.
Olmeda is scheduled to return to court in June for a review of his condition, and will be brought to court twice a year after that.