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Monday, July 4, 2022

Stephanie Faye Hamman's Temporary Insanity

     Stephanie Faye Hamman lived with her husband Steven in an apartment in Church Hill Tennessee. At nine-thirty Sunday night, March 16, 2014, as Steven watched a NASCAR race on television, his 23-year-old wife climbed into her Toyota Celica and drove the car through the front doors of the Providence Church across the street from their apartment.

     From inside the church Stephanie called Steven on her cell phone and informed him she had plowed the Toyota into the building. When Steven walked into the church through the demolished front entrance he found his wife lying at the foot of the altar. As he checked on the condition of his wife she rose up and stabbed him in the right side of his chest with a large kitchen knife. "The devil is in me!" she yelled.

     The devil may have been in Stephanie, but the big knife was in her husband. He managed to pull it out of his chest and make his way back to his apartment where he called 911.

     After thrusting the kitchen knife into her husband's chest Stephanie climbed back into the damaged Toyota and drove off. Later that night a Church Hill police officer found the car parked in an apartment complex parking lot in nearby Allandale. A relative had driven Stephanie Hamman to the emergency room at the Holston Valley Medical Center.

     When taken into custody at the hospital Stephanie explained to the arresting officer that she had stabbed her husband because she was angry over his "worshiping NASCAR."

     At the Church Hill Police Department, after she had been advised of her Miranda rights, Stephanie became quite talkative. "So God told me," she said, "that He wanted me in their [the church] so I drove my car through the front doors. God told me to do it, so I did it."

      "After I drove through the doors, I put all the things I brought to the church to the altar. I called Steven and told him I had wrecked. I laid down in front of the altar until he got there. The devil told me to take the kitchen knife with me. I prayed I would not have to use it on him, but I did."

     Stephanie told detectives she had been baptized earlier in the day at another church. She also admitted that she smoked a lot of marijuana. "I smoke a bunch of weed," she said. "I love to smoke it. Sometimes when I do, I start seeing things that others don't. Isn't God good? He told me this would happen, and just look, I am okay."

     While Steven Hamman wasn't as okay as his wife, doctors expected him to survive his puncture wound.

      A Hawkins County prosecutor charged Stephanie Hamman with attempted first-degree murder and felony vandalism. The judge denied her bail.

     On December 8, 2014, a Hawkins County Grand Jury indicted Hamman on the attempted murder and assault charges. But on December 17, 2014 Judge J. Todd Armstrong acting on the recommendation of Attorney General Dan Armstrong, dismissed the Hamman case. According to the prosecutor a psychiatric evaluation of the defendant revealed that at the time of the assault she was not mentally competent. In justifying his decision Judge Armstrong used the term "temporary insanity," a legal defense that in reality does not exist.

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