|For Immediate Release
Case # 04WF1890
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
WOMAN CONVICTED OF MURDERING 84-YEAR-OLD GREAT GRANDMOTHER WITH DEMENTIA BY STABBING HER FIVE TIMES IN THE NECK
SANTA ANA – A woman was convicted today of murdering her 84-year-old great grandmother, who suffered from dementia, by stabbing the victim five times in the neck as she sat helpless in her wheelchair. Christina Marie Munoz, 28, Garden Grove, was found guilty in a court trial before the Honorable Richard Toohey of one felony count of second degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. She faces a maximum sentence of 16 years to life in state prison. As the defendant entered pleas of “not guilty” and “not guilty by reason of insanity,” the sanity phase of the trial (see below) will begin before a jury April 12, 2010, in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
At approximately 11:00 a.m. on July 1, 2004, Munoz went to the Garden Grove home of her 84-year-old great grandmother, Lillian Patburg. Munoz’s parents were Patburg’s live-in caretakers, as she suffered from dementia and other illnesses, and Munoz went to help take care of the victim while her parents went to the dentist. While alone with her great grandmother, Munoz took a steak knife from the kitchen and stabbed the victim five times in the neck, murdering her in her wheelchair.
At approximately 2:00 p.m. officers from the Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD) responded to a call from the victim’s residence. Munoz was standing in the front yard when officers arrived, screaming that someone had broken into the home while she was sleeping and killed her great grandmother. Officers found the victim inside the home, slumped over in her wheelchair, and paramedics were unable to resuscitate her.
Munoz went to the GGPD station to provide a voluntary interview. During the course of her interview, Munoz repeatedly changed her story. She first stated that the victim was murdered by a stranger who broke into the home. Munoz then claimed that she hid the knife in the garage because she panicked after watching her great grandmother commit suicide. The defendant eventually told officers that she had murdered the victim because her family was struggling to care for her as a result of her dementia.
The trial will now move to the second phase, the sanity phase, as the defendant entered pleas of “not guilty” and “not guilty by reason of insanity.” In the guilt phase, during which the court heard evidence about the crime, the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charged crime. In the sanity phase, a jury will consider evidence to determine if the defendant was legally sane at the time of the crime. When a defendant pleads “not guilty by reason of insanity,” the burden is on the defense to prove that the defendant was more likely than not legally insane when she committed the crime. To be considered legally insane, the defense must prove that the defendant had a mental disease or defect when she committed the crime and that this defect kept the defendant from understanding the nature of her act or from understanding that her act was morally or legally wrong.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.