AP 06/28 0707 Exorcism Trial Copyright, 1988. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. B

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AP 06/28 0707 Exorcism Trial Copyright, 1988. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- A woman accused of gouging out a 16-year-old boy's eye to rid him of demons cannot be called an exorcist during her trial despite telling police she performed six exorcisms, a judge decided. The terms "exorcism" and "exorcist" might prejudice some jurors hearing Andrea Cowan's case, even though the words don't necessarily have negative connotations, Judge Michael McDonald ruled Monday. A six-member jury was chosen after McDonald's ruling, and prosecutors and defense attorney John Calmes were to present their opening arguments today. Cowan, 26, is charged with cruelty to a juvenile, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a $1,000 fine. Detectives who arrested her in March 1987 said she quoted the Bible to justify her action: "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast to hell." The boy, Darnell Washington, had a history of fasting to rid his body of what he believed to be a demonic possession, authorities said. He had convulsions at school on March 23, 1987, and was taken to Baton Rouge General hospital by ambulance. After he was released that afternoon, his family began an exorcism, authorities said. When the family decided they could not expel the demons from the boy, they called Cowan, her husband, Kevin, and their pastor, David Cowan, Kevin Cowan's brother. Andrea Cowan told detectives she has performed at least six exorcisms in which she prayed demons away. "God was acting through Andrea," said David Cowan, pastor of Rock Zion Baptist Church. "It was a very stubborn demon because there were more than one in him." Andrea Cowan told arresting officers that at the time of the ritual "she was not of this world -- Jesus had taken over her body." She told detectives that after prayer failed, she took the boy upstairs to beat the demons from him. When that didn't work, she stuck a finger into his left eye socket, plucked out his eyeball and released the demons, she told detectives. She said the boy spoke in the devil's voice and vomited a "mucus matter," that she recognized as the devil. "We cleaned the eye, and he went on to bed," David Cowan said in an interview a few days after the incident. "We covered the eye, and we prayed God would heal it. And whatever prevailed, that was God's will." Two days after the ritual, a nurse from Baton Rouge General telephoned the boy's home to check on his condition and was told of the eye injury. The nurse urged the family to take the boy back to the hospital. Detective Erika D'Amico said that when she interviewed the boy and asked him what happened to his eye, "he started shaking and said `God did it."' The youth then began gurgling and talking incoherently, she said. Authorities took custody of the boy and he was taken to a New Orleans hospital for treatment. APn 06/30 0623 Exorcism Trial Copyright, 1988. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- A jury took 20 minutes to convict a woman of gouging out a 16-year-old boy's eye to purge demons from his body, but her attorney said she has a "snow-white" record and should get a light sentence. A six-member jury Wednesday found Andrea Cowan guilty of cruelty to a juvenile, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail. District Judge Mike McDonald released her on her original $10,000 bond. Attorney John Calmes, who argued Wednesday that Darrell Washington had plucked out his own eye while he was in a psychotic state on March 23, 1987, said he may appeal the verdict if Cowan gets a harsh sentence at a hearing scheduled for Sept. 9. Cowan has a "snow-white" record and is hoping for a light sentence, he said. Cowan, 26, sat calmly with her hands clasped as the verdict was read to the crowded courtroom. Washington, now 17, sat two rows behind her. Calmes and Assistant District Attorney Sue Bernie agreed that Cowan, her husband, and her brother-in-law, the pastor of the Rock Zion Baptist Church, were called to Washington's house because his parents believed he was possessed. Washington testified Wednesday that he suffered what was diagnosed as an anxiety attack while he was at school that day, was taken to a hospital, and began saying vile things in strange voices after he returned home. Washington testified that Cowan hit him on the head, and, after taking him into his bedroom, bit his ears and plucked out his eye to drive out the demons. Calmes had argued that Washington was in a psychotic state and plucked his own eye out. However, Cowan's husband, Kevin Cowan, an assistant pastor at the church, testified that the Lord plucked the youth's eye out through his wife.

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