Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
WOMAN SENTENCED TO 16 YEARS TO LIFE FOR MURDERING 84-YEAR-OLD GREAT GRANDMOTHER WITH DEMENTIA BY STABBING HER
FIVE TIMES IN THE NECK
SANTA ANA – A woman was sentenced today to 16 years to life in state prison for murdering her 84-year-old great grandmother by stabbing the victim five times in the neck as she sat helpless in her wheelchair. Christina Marie Munoz, 29, Garden Grove, was found guilty in a court trial before the Honorable Richard Toohey Jan. 29, 2010, of one felony count of second degree murder. The sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon was found true. The defendant withdrew her plea of “not guilty by reason of insanity,” and the sanity phase of the trial was canceled.
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.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.