Thornton mental health ruling delayed

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CaptureThe Gert Town mother accused of killing her two young children likely won’t go to trial any time soon. The judge was set to rule on Chelsea Thornton’s mental competence but that ruling has been pushed back.

This is perhaps the most shocking crime story of the year in New Orleans. Now, a judge has to decide if Chelsea Thornton is too mentally ill to stand trial. Judge Gerard Hansen was supposed to make that call Monday morning, but he obtained the psychiatrist’s report only a few minutes before the ruling was due and did not have a chance to look over it so he delayed his decision until Thursday.

It was two months ago that police say the 23-year-old mother fired a shot into her 3-year-old son’s head then turned the gun on her 4-year-old daughter but the gun jammed so police say she drowned her daughter in the bathtub.

Relatives say that Thornton had a long history of mental illness, that she suffered from bipolar schizophrenia, and that she had not been taking her medication.

Last week, a court-appointed psychiatrist reported to Judge Hansen that Thornton was too mentally ill to understand what had happened and was not competent enough to even help her attorneys prepare for her trial.

If Judge Hansen rules Thursday that Thornton is not competent, she’ll be taken to a mental hospital in East Feliciana Parish where she will be treated until she is able to come back and stand trial, but her attorneys have indicated if that happens they will seek a ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ verdict.

If she is convicted of killing her two children Thornton would face either life in prison or the death penalty.