78ºF

Woman involved in X-Acto knife stabbing ordered back to China

Psychiatrist describes Siyuan Zhao's mental state during Art Basel attack

MIAMI – A woman accused of stabbing a patron with an X-Acto knife during last year's Art Basel in Miami Beach pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder, but she won't be serving any prison time.

Instead, a judge ruled Thursday that Siyuan Zhao return home to her native China because of her mental illness.

"She was very psychotic," her psychiatrist, Dr. Ilan Melnick, testified in describing Zhao's state of mind at the time of the X-Acto knife attack.

Police said Zhao stabbed another woman in the neck and shoulder at the Miami Beach Convention Center in December.

"She felt that ISIS was going to be at Art Basel to destroy the art," Melnick testified. "So she, when walking around, felt that (the victim) was an ISIS agent at the time."

Melnick said that Zhao, who has battled mental illness for a long time, had no sense of right and wrong at the time of the incident and heard voices in her head.

The judge was concerned that Zhao would not be competent to enter a plea or understand the severity of the charge that she was facing.

"She is able to understand fully the charges that are being brought against her," Melnick said.

Melnick said that Zhao is now medicated and has undergone extensive treatment. He added that she is remorseful of her actions and is no longer showing signs of hallucinations.

The victim told the court that she is ready to forgive her attacker.

Zhao was scheduled to leave on an 8 p.m. flight to Los Angeles and then onto China. She will not be allowed to return.


About the Authors: