Alabama woman found not guilty by reason of insanity in mother’s killing

Crime
Christmas Day
December 25 2021 12:00 am

VALLEY, Ala. (WRBL) — A Chambers County judge has determined a Valley woman who killed her mother, then attempted to burn and dismember the body is not guilty by reason of insanity.

Investigators say that in February 2018, Heather Christianson killed Francis McDonald, her 79-year-old mother, in the home the two shared along 36th Street in Valley.

Christenson’s murder trial began on Nov. 1 and ended Nov. 3, without the jury getting a chance to deliberate. Instead, when prosecutors finished calling their witnesses, the defense filed a motion with Circuit Judge Steven Perryman, granted a directed verdict, and found Christenson not guilty due to reason of mental disease or defect.

“At the conclusion of the State’s case in chief, the defense counsel made a motion for directed verdict finding the defendant not guilty by reason of mental disease and defect,” Perryman wrote in his order Monday. “The court recessed the trial until the following day to fully consider the defendant’s motion. After carefully consideration of the demeanor of the defendant, the argument from counsel, and testimony before the court, the defendant’s motion was granted.”

Christenson is now in the custody of the Alabama Department of Mental Health.

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