California Family to Stand Trial for Alleged Fatal Exorcism of 3-Year-Old Daughter


A California judge is set to decide on May 10 whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial for a woman, her brother, and their pastor father accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter in an alleged exorcism gone wrong.

Firefighters discovered young Arely Naomi Proctor dead on the altar of Iglesia Apostoles y Profetas in San Jose on Sept. 24, 2021, with a multitude of injuries, according to court documents obtained by San Francisco CW affiliate KRON.

Arely’s mother claimed to have communicated with God for three weeks leading up to her daughter’s death. She alleged that God told her she was not meant to be a mother, according to statements made to law enforcement.

The mother, her brother, and their father are facing charges of felony assault on a child resulting in death. Prosecutors argue that their actions during the purported exorcism led to the child’s fatal injuries.

During police interviews, the uncle acknowledged the possibility that his actions contributed to Arely’s death, stating that he believed God instructed him to squeeze her harder. The family purportedly believed Arely was possessed and attempted to perform an exorcism to rid her of evil spirits.

The case raises complex legal questions surrounding religious beliefs, mental state, and criminal culpability.

The defendants maintain that they were acting in accordance with their religious beliefs, while prosecutors argue that their actions constituted criminal behavior resulting in the tragic death of a young child.

Legal Issues

The defendants are facing charges of felony assault on a child younger than 8, resulting in death. The prosecution argues that their actions during the purported exorcism led to the death of the 3-year-old girl.

The outcome of the case will depend on whether the evidence presented in court is sufficient to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Allegations of Religious Motivation

The case involves complex legal questions surrounding religious beliefs and practices. The defendants purportedly believed that the child was possessed by evil spirits and sought to perform an exorcism to rid her of these spirits.

However, their actions resulted in fatal injuries to the child. The court will need to determine whether their religious beliefs provide legal justification or defense for their actions or whether they constitute criminal behavior.

Question of Mental State

Another legal issue at play is the mental state of the defendants at the time of the incident. The prosecution alleges that the defendants forcefully held the child and inflicted injuries on her during the exorcism.

The defense may argue that the defendants were not in a sound mental state and believed they were acting in the child’s best interest based on their religious beliefs.

The court may consider psychological evaluations and expert testimony to assess the defendants’ mental state and intent.