Lori Ann Mitchell is being held for a mental evaluation to see if she needs to stay in an institution indefinitely.
She was found not guilty of killing her mother Thursday because the judge ruled her insane.
Mitchell killed her mother in Rockingham County in April of 2011 and there was never any question as to whether she killed her mother. The autopsy report showed that she strangled her to death and Mitchell admitted to it.
Thursday was more about whether she was actually insane. Now that the judge said Mitchell was insane, we have to see if Mitchell will stay in an institution.
"For as long as I'm Commonwealth's Attorney, I'll do anything I can to ensure that she remains in a mental institution and not free so she can hurt others in the community," said Commonwealth's Attorney Marsha Garst.
Garst said just because Mitchell was found not guilty does not mean she should go free.
Defense Attorney Tracy Evans showed evidence in court from two doctors who confirmed she was insane. He said one doctor reported that Mitchell thought her mother was a demon and that was why she killed her.
"And he evaluated Ms. Mitchell and evaluated a bunch of her medical records, police reports, correspondence, jail phone conversations,” said Evans. “I mean he reviewed a bunch of information. He also met with her and he concluded that she was insane at the time of the offense."
The judge decided this was enough evidence to prove Mitchell's insanity and now, Garst said she will work hard to ensure she never leaves the institution.
"Part of the evaluation will be whether she is a threat to herself or others, and of course as I stated in court, I maintain that she is a threat to others, and I'll do anything I can to keep this community safe," said Garst.
Garst said Mitchell will be evaluated every year to see if she could be released from the mental institution, but she said as long as she is the Commonwealth's Attorney, she will make sure that does not happen.
Mitchell will be back in court at the end of August to see how long she will need to stay in a mental institution.
Evans said the family is satisfied with this outcome because they have known about her history of mental illnesses.
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