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January 29, 2014

Stapleton's attorneys continue insanity defense pursuit

ELBERTA — Attorneys for an Elberta woman accused of trying to kill her autistic daughter took another legal step in mounting an insanity defense for their client.

Nineteenth Circuit Court Judge James Batzer signed an order Tuesday allowing Kelli Rai Stapleton, 45, to undergo a criminal responsibility evaluation. Stapleton pleaded not guilty to attempted murder on Jan. 14.

The evaluation will determine Stapleton’s state of mind around Sept. 3 when she’s accused of trying to kill her daughter Issy, 14, by igniting two charcoal grills inside an enclosed van.

Both suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and Issy lingered in a coma for days before awaking with permanent brain damage.

Stapleton’s attorneys, Brian Johnson and Heidi Hodek, declined comment. They filed a notice last week allowing them to mount an insanity defense.

A six-day jury trial is scheduled to begin April 2.



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