Judge: Valley daughter not guilty by reason of insanity in mother’s killing

Alabama

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.

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

Christenson’s murder trial began last week on November 1 and ended on November 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.

In his order, dated Monday, November 8, Perryman wrote, “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. 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 Department of Mental Health.

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