Kidnapping suspect found mentally unfit to stand trial

The woman accused of kidnapping a 4-year-old boy in Atascadero last month was found mentally incompetent to stand trial Wednesday in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Annette Hale, 52, was examined by two doctors — David Fennell and Carolyn Murphy — who determined that she’s not capable of understanding the court process or assisting in her own defense.

Hale was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping the boy at an Atascadero homeless shelter Aug. 5 and keeping him in a vacant car dealership for most of the day while authorities and volunteers coordinated an intensive search for him.

Hale is scheduled to return to Judge Teresa Estrada-Mullaney’s courtroom Sept. 14, at which time she’ll be assigned a mental health institution to receive treatment.

After her arrest, Hale told a judge in a video conference from County Jail that she was a CIA agent who was trying to protect the boy from his mother, because she wasn’t his real mother.

Hale’s daughter told The Tribune that her mother has suffered from delusional thinking for more than two decades.

Women charged with felonies are often treated at Patton State Hospital near Riverside in an effort to restore them to competency.

Criminal proceedings against her have been suspended until Hale is found fit to stand trial.