Mother accused of killing children faces competency hearing

Mother accused of killing children faces competency hearing

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A judge could decide Tuesday if a woman accused of killing her two children is mentally competent to request to waive her right to a jury trial.

Nearly five years ago Chelsea Thornton was arrested after she admitted killing her 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

Police said Thornton shot her son in the head then tried to shoot her daughter. But the gun had jammed, so she drowned her daughter in the bathtub.

In a recorded statement to police, Thornton described them as mercy killings. She said she did it so her children would not have to grow up in poverty like she did.

Thorton's family said she has a history of mental illness. She was in treatment at a mental health facility for bipolar schizophrenia before her children were killed.

According to our partners at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, Thornton's defense attorney does not want a jury to see pictures of the dead children or hear that statement to police.

That's why he asked the judge on Friday to waive a trial by jury and rule from the bench instead.

Tuesday morning, the judge will determine whether Thornton is competent for trial and understands the request for a bench trial before deciding how to proceed.

The trial is scheduled to start August 7. Thorton has entered dual pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

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