Paso woman accused of stabbing mother to death will plead insanity

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comJuly 2, 2013 

A woman who allegedly told police she killed her mother in an effort to “save the babies” will pursue an insanity defense, her attorney announced in court Tuesday.

Sunni Jackson, 37, of Paso Robles, allegedly stabbed and beat 61-year-old Earlene Louise Grove to death in April 2012. When police responded to the scene, Jackson allegedly made several bizarre comments, saying, “If I’m gonna go down, she’s gonna go down for ruining a bunch of little babies.”

Police found her mother in a bedroom, covered in blankets. Grove suffered blunt-force trauma to her head and multiple stab wounds.

According to a search warrant, investigators later found a cobblestone and knives they believe were involved in the murder.

According to court records, Jackson was first declared schizophrenic in 1996. Jackson’s roommate allegedly said the defendant had not been taking her medication around the time of the killing.

Known to Paso Robles police for bizarre behavior, Jackson was disruptive during an early court appearance and had to be taken back to jail. Eventually, she was declared incompetent to stand trial and treated at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino County. She was deemed competent in May.

She becomes the fifth local murder defendant to plead not guilty by reason of insanity since 2012. Of the four others, only one, Andrew Downs, was found legally insane at the time of the crime.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Superior Court Judge John Trice appointed two mental health experts to evaluate Jackson and render opinions regarding her sanity. Their reports will be released to the court during Jackson’s next hearing, July 30.

If the case goes to trial, the prosecution would first have to prove she’s guilty of the crime. If she’s determined to have killed her mother, the defense will then have the burden to prove she was insane at the time of the offense.

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