18 May 2019

Kenyan Woman Charged With Killing 60-Year-Old Woman in U.S. Pleads Insanity

A Kenyan woman charged with vehicular homicide in Tacoma, Washington, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Win Gikonyo, 26, claims she was suffering from hallucinations when she crashed her new Hyundai Elantra into 60-year-old Marianne Burton's Toyota Prius, as she was delivering pizza.

According to The News Tribune, Gikonyo wrote in a declaration filed with the court that she understands her plea means the court could hospitalize her indefinitely if she's found to be a substantial danger to herself or others.

She also understands that if the court finds she is not a substantial danger, it could put conditions on her release -- including prohibiting her from driving.

Gikonyo was earlier this month diagnosed with "unspecified schizophrenia spectrum or other psychotic disorder" and she was found to be a low risk to re-offend or exhibit dangerous behavior.

DIED AT THE SCENE

After the accident last year, blood tests showed Gikonyo was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when she drove more than 100 miles per hour, tried to pass two cars, then hit Burton's car who died at the scene.

Her defense attorney Michael Stewart read a letter that Gikonyo wrote in which she apologized to Burton's family and said she hoped they could forgive her one day.

"I just want to tell you how sorry I am," it read in part. "... Please know it was an accident."

He said Gikonyo had moved out of her mother's home before the wreck and isolated herself. Her mother didn't know where she was for several months.

Charging papers said Gikonyo started rolling in the street as officers tried to speak with her after the wreck, and that at various points she hissed, spat and pretended to be dead.

"She was suffering from hallucinations and is not legally responsible for her actions at the time," Stewart said of the crash.

DOUBT INSANITY

Burton's children say Gikonyo stole her mother from them, and question her claims of insanity.

Amber Falaschi, Burton's daughter, told the court that Gikonyo did "things that insane people don't generally do," such as holding a job and buying a car. "She stole my mother's life from everyone who knew her," Falaschi added.

Burton's son James Burton said his mother was less than two years away from retirement when she died.

The judge noted that Gikonyo has prior hospitalizations for mental health treatment but that for some reason she had stopped taking medication at the time of the accident.

He ordered her held without bail pending a hearing to discuss possible mental treatment options going forward.

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