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Woman accused of abandoning corpse mentally fit to stand trial

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A woman accused of abandoning a corpse in her northeast Columbia apartment will stand trial after a seven-month commitment to a mental health facility.

Judge Deborah Daniels signed the order to proceed with the case against Deborah Berardi on Nov. 6. Berardi is scheduled to be in court next Monday.

Daniels committed Berardi to the Department of Mental Health in April after several hearings in her case. The order said Berardi is "mentally fit to proceed."

Police suspect Berardi left the body of Steven Summa, her spouse, in an apartment on Leeway Drive on January 30. His body was in early stages of decomposition, and investigators believed Berardi left town sometime after Summa died. 

Berardi was arrested by the Missouri State Highway Patrol in St. Louis.

Online court records show Fulton State Hospital staff submitted a "competency evaluation report" on Oct. 6 to Daniels, which is sealed.

DMH spokeswoman Debra Walker said she could neither confirm nor deny ay aspects of Berardi's commitment due to federal health privacy laws.

ABC 17 News confirmed with police that Summa died of natural causes. Officers at one point suspected Summa may have been murdered. His body was "situated in an unusual manner that is inconsistent with natural or accidental death," an application for a search warrant stated. 


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