Two court-appointed psychiatric experts have concluded that a Paso Robles woman charged with murdering her mother was legally insane at the time, it was announced Tuesday, forcing prosecutors to decide if they wish to hire their own expert to refute the findings.
According to police reports, Sunni Daun Jackson, 37, made several bizarre statements after allegedly murdering her mother, Earlene Louis Grove, in April 2012. Less than a month after murder charges were filed against her, the court declared her mentally incompetent to stand trial, and Jackson was sent to Patton State Hospital.
Jackson had previously been sent to Patton State Hospital after a serious assault on her mother.
Even though she has since been deemed competent, her attorney said Jackson’s condition is still grave.
“She is very fragile,” said Jim Maguire. “I told the judge that I came very close to saying she is not competent today.”
After Maguire announced he would pursue a not guilty by reason of insanity defense earlier this month, Superior Court Judge John Trice ordered two mental health experts to evaluate the defendant. Both experts, David Fennell and Carolyn Murphy, agreed Jackson was legally insane at the time of the murder.
As a result, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jerret Gran said his office will evaluate the reports before deciding whether to independently hire a psychiatric expert to evaluate Jackson.
Insanity cases require a two-phase trial – the first to determine if the defendant committed the crime as charged and the second, if the first phase results in a guilty verdict, to determine if the defendant was legally sane at the time the offense was committed.
Jackson will appear in court again Aug. 6.
Meanwhile, Trice – at Maguire’s request – ordered the jail’s mental health staff to see Jackson as soon as possible.
Paso Robles police have said Jackson, a diagnosed schizophrenic, had a history of bizarre behavior dating back to the early 1990s. During an early court hearing, she had to be returned to jail for disruptive behavior.
Her mother died from multiple stab wounds to the upper torso, with a contributing factor of blunt-force trauma to the head, according to the Paso Robles Police Department.