|For Immediate Release
Case # 07NF3525
August 17, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
WOMAN FACES TRIAL FOR SHOOTING AND ATTEMPTING TO MURDER NEIGHBOR
AFTER HE ASKED HER TO STOP
PULLING PLANTS FROM HIS YARD
SANTA ANA – A woman faces trial tomorrow for shooting and attempting to murder her neighbor after he asked her to stop pulling plants from his yard. Anita Judith Spriggs, 66, Anaheim, is charged with 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. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. Opening statements are expected to begin tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-34, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
On Sept. 30, 2007, Spriggs is accused of reaching over the fence into her neighbor’s yard and 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 is accused of pulling out a gun and shooting the victim in the shoulder, fracturing his shoulder blade.
Spriggs is accused of then going back into her home. She is accused of hiding the firearm used to shoot Hall in an oven mitt and placing it in a hole in the drywall inside her house. 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 is accused of refusing to come out from her home and finally surrendering 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 is the guilt phase, during which jurors hears evidence about the crime. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of that crime. If convicted, the case 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.