Woman accused of kidnapping boy in Atascadero pleads insanity

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comMay 5, 2014 

Annette Hale appears in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on kidnapping charges on Aug. 10, 2011.

JAYSON MELLOM — The Tribune

A woman who allegedly kidnapped a 4-year-old boy from an Atascadero homeless shelter pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Monday.

Annette Hale, 55, appeared in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Monday for an arraignment. Hale had previously been declared incompetent to stand trial.

She was arrested in August 2011 for allegedly abducting a boy from the shelter where both she and the boy had been staying.

After 100 volunteers and law enforcement officers searched the area, the boy was found unharmed at a vacant car dealership. Hale, who was allegedly seen walking away from the dealership, was arrested later.

In court during her initial hearings, Hale said she was a CIA agent trying to protect the boy from his mother, whom she claimed wasn’t really the boy’s mother.

Hale’s daughter previously declared unfit to stand trial in August 2011.

Her most recent competency hearing, in March, revealed she was still incompetent. But psychiatric experts now think she understands the charges against her and can assist her own defense.

In court Monday, Hale entered dual pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

In California, a defendant is insane if at the time of the crime he either didn't know that what he was doing was wrong or was unable to understand the nature and quality of his act.

Conclusions from the psychiatric experts will be reported to the court June 2. Hale’s trial is set for June 30.

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