WOMAN CONVICTED OF SHOOTING AND ATTEMPTING TO MURDER NEIGHBOR AFTER HE ASKED HER TO STOP PULLING PLANTS FROM HIS YARD

OCDASeal

Orange County District Attorney
Press Release


Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
Case # 07NF3525

 


 

August 25, 2009

Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
Office: 714-347-8408
Cell: 714-292-2718

Farrah Emami
Spokesperson
Office: 714-347-8405
Cell: 714-323-4486

WOMAN CONVICTED OF SHOOTING AND ATTEMPTING TO MURDER NEIGHBOR AFTER HE ASKED HER TO STOP PULLING PLANTS FROM HIS YARD

 

SANTA ANA – A woman was convicted today of shooting and attempting to murder her neighbor after he asked her to stop pulling plants from his yard. Anita Judith Spriggs, 66, Anaheim, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of attempted murder, one felony count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, and sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury, the personal use of a firearm, and causing great bodily injury. She faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. The sanity phase of the trial (see below) is scheduled to begin tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. in Department C-34, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

 

On Sept. 30, 2007, Spriggs reached over the fence into her neighbor’s yard and began pulling out the neighbor’s plants. The neighbor, 66-year-old Gary Hall and his wife, who had lived next door to the defendant for 30 years, arrived home and saw Spriggs pulling out the plants. Hall walked over to the defendant and asked her to stop. Spriggs pulled out a gun and shot the victim in the shoulder.

 

Spriggs went back into her home and put the firearm used to shoot Hall in an oven mitt, which she then his in a hole in her bedroom wall. Responding police officers attempted to contact the defendant on her home and cell phone and through the use of a public address system from outside the house. Spriggs refused to come out from her home but finally surrendered after an hour-long standoff.

 

As the defendant entered pleas of “not guilty” and “not guilty by reason of insanity,” the trial will be held in two phases. The first phase was the guilt phase, during which jurors heard evidence about the crime. The prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime. Based on the guilty verdict by the jury, the case now goes to the second phase, the sanity phase, in which the same jury considers 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. 

 

Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon of the Felony Panel is prosecuting this case.

 

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