February 2, 2024

By Linda Cicoira

A New Church woman, who was previously found not guilty of arson and second-degree murder due to insanity, showed progress in her mental health quest to return to society Thursday at her first annual review hearing conducted by an Accomack Circuit Court judge.

Forty-two-year-old Kimiko Tenallie Dickerson is being treated at Eastern State Hospital under a court order. She won’t be released until the court allows it. The hearing was held through video conferencing.

Dickerson’s psychiatrist was also on screen. “She’s made good progress so far,” he said. “No aggression. She is allowed to walk the grounds with staff.” The next “major issue is getting her to realize how important it is” to stay on her medications. “Over the next year, we’re looking for an integration of what having a mental illness means for her. How to manage.” He recommended that she continue treatment there and reported that she would soon start a job at the hospital’s kitchen.

Dickerson’s uncle, 59-year-old Delbert (Del) Eugene Dickerson, a poultry plant worker, died of smoke inhalation and thermal injuries at the home on Bishop Road in April of 2021.

The defendant admitted to setting the fire. She told police and emergency workers that she “didn’t mean to kill him.” She said, she “heard someone crawling around in the attic and needed to get rid of them.” She also said a baby python was there and that things were in the basement although the house didn’t have a basement. The defendant said she lit the rug on fire with a cigarette and jumped out the window.

Testimony was that Dickerson was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia at age 26. She stopped taking her medications sometime before the fire because she couldn’t afford them.

     The blaze was discovered by another occupant of the home, Lowrence (Roncy) Rue, Delbert Dickerson’s nephew. Court records stated Rue smelled smoke and went to investigate. When he opened the living room door, he was met by heavy flames. At about the same time, Rue heard the victim yelling. The younger man attempted to rescue his uncle but was pushed back by flames. He then ran to a neighbor’s house to call for help, the court file stated.

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February 27, 2024, 3:58 pm
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