Paso Robles woman pleads no contest to murder in mother's death

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comNovember 19, 2013 

Sunni Jackson appeared in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Thursday, June 27, 2013.

JOE JOHNSTON — jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A schizophrenic woman who allegedly said she killed her mother to “save the babies” has pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in a legal move that precedes her insanity trial next month.

The trial for Sunni Jackson, 37, of Paso Robles, was originally set to begin this week. The trial would have required two stages — one to determine if she murdered her mother, 61-year-old Earlene Louise Grove, in April 2012, and another to determine if she was legally insane at the time. But with physical evidence and Jackson’s confessional statements to police, the first part of the trial would have been a formality.

By pleading no contest Monday, Jackson’s defense will now focus on the second phase of the case. Court-ordered psychiatric reports issued by David Fennell and Carolyn Murphy have concluded that Jackson was insane when she killed her mother. The District Attorney’s Office will have its own expert, Kris Mohandie, offer his conclusions by Dec. 5.

A trial has been set for Dec. 10. At that time, either a judge or a jury will view the psychiatric reports to determine whether Jackson is not guilty by reason of insanity.

When police responded to the scene of Grove’s apartment, 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 found a cobblestone and knives they believe were involved in the crime.

Jackson, who spent time at Patton State Hospital.

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