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DSA In the News

Mom not guilty by reason of insanity

Published on 10/20/2010

A Redwood City mother pleaded no contest to attempted murder of her daughter and assault on her son Tuesday but was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Philomena Mary Brown, 40, had already entered twin pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to multiple counts of attempted murder. On Tuesday, she pleaded no contest to charges of attempted murder, causing great bodily harm to her daughter while attempting to murder him, and assault on her son, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. A trio of court-appointed doctors found Brown not to be sane and Judge Lisa Novak found her not guilty by reason of insanity.

On Dec. 8, Brown will return to court to learn at which hospital she will be staying. A majority of those found needing mental help are sent to Napa State Hospital, said Wagstaffe. Once assigned, Brown will remain hospitalized until restored to sanity, which is a minimum of 180 days.

Brown was charged with three counts of premeditated attempted murder — alongside child abuse charges — which left her facing life in prison if convicted. The key is the premeditation allegation which prosecutors say is shown by her knowingly slipping drugs to her husband, 23-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son the night before the June 21 attack.

Police arrested Brown after receiving a call from the son who said he and his sister were attacked with a dumbbell at the family’s home at 1010 Vera Ave. Later details showed that Brown’s husband of 26 years and the children were allegedly drugged the previous night by something she placed in their food.

Brown fled the house and was found by sheriff’s deputies later than afternoon at Pomponio State Beach where authorities believe she tried to kill herself with prescription medication and she was hospitalized before being medically cleared and taken to the women’s jail.

Defense attorney Vince O’Malley has said his client suffered a mental breakdown in the weeks before the attack, believing people wanted to harm or even kill her family.

Brown remains in custody on no-bail status.