A 20-year-old woman who threw a 5-year-old girl in front of a NJ Transit River Line train in Burlington City as a human sacrifice to prove her love to a relative has been found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity.
Superior Court Judge Philip E. Haines delivered the verdict Wednesday after a short bench trial in Mount Holly for Autumn Matacchiera.
Matacchiera, of Hainesport, will now be committed to the Ann Klein Forensic Center, a state psychiatric hospital in Ewing Township, until a court finds that she is no longer a threat to herself or society. Under law, she will have regular court hearings on her mental health status.
Matacchiera, who has a history of mental illness, could have faced 20 years in prison if convicted.
Authorities say the woman grabbed the girl at random in January and threw her on the tracks at the light-rail station. Police who witnessed the attack jumped onto the tracks to signal the train to stop while the girl was rescued by her mother’s boyfriend. The child suffered a cut and some bruising.
The woman had told officials she believed she had to make a sacrifice to prove her love to her grandmother. She also said she planned to jump in front of the next train.