The 52-year-old woman accused of kidnapping a 4-year-old boy in Atascadero will be analyzed by two doctors to determine whether she is mentally competent to stand trial.
Annette Hale appeared in San Luis Obispo Superior Court before Judge Linda Hurst on Wednesday morning for arraignment after James Maguire was appointed to be her public defender.
Hale was arrested Friday for her alleged role in the kidnapping of Jeremy Guthrie from a homeless shelter that morning, leaving a note on his mother’s pillow titled “Romans 10:9” that called for the mother to confess her sins, according to a police report.
“If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Christ was raised from the dead, you shall be saved,” the note stated, according to the Atascadero Police Department report.
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The kidnapping occurred before dawn and spawned a huge search involving more than 100 volunteers and law enforcement officers. About 5 p.m., the boy was found in a vacant car dealership and returned to his mother, LaToya Logan.
Hale said in a hearing Tuesday that she was a “CIA agent” who was trying to protect the boy, claiming Logan wasn’t his real mother.
Hale said in court Wednesday that she was pleading the Fifth Amendment, so she wouldn’t comment when questioned by Hurst.
Mental competency examinations are conducted to determine whether defendants can understand the court process and assist their lawyer in their own defense.
If defendants are found competent to stand trial, they may enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
That’s essentially when defendants admit to a criminal act, but their attorney believes they lack the mental capacity to intend to commit the crime.
If defendants are found unfit to stand trial, they receive treatment in a mental health institution until they’re able to return to court to face their charges.
Hale remains in custody in County Jail in lieu of posting $1 million bail.
Deputy District Attorney Charlie Blair sought a protective order, which the judge granted. The order prohibits Hale from going near or contacting the boy or the First Baptist Church building in Atascadero where the homeless shelter is housed.
Hale had been staying at the shelter since July 29, the police report said.
Hale’s daughter, Sara Fowler, 30, of Sacramento, told The Tribune earlier this week that her mother has suffered from mental illness for more than two decades and has delusions.
Hale needs mental health assistance and not a prison term to help her, Fowler said.
Hale is scheduled to return to court Aug. 31 to find out the results of her mental competency examination.
Her criminal proceedings alleging felony kidnapping and felony child endangerment have been suspended pending the result of the competency hearing, Hurst ruled.