Stabbing Hearing Highlights Issues about Woman’s Options for Mental Recovery

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By Amy Berberyan

RIVERSIDE, CA – Michelle Arnold’s mental health issues raised concerns here in Riverside County Superior Court late last week over what type of rehabilitation she requires after stabbing her 78-year-old mother in the middle of the night.

Arnold, who has been in custody since Dec. 30 of last year, suffers from schizophrenia and was reportedly heard speaking to herself shortly before she attacked her victim, her own mother, with a knife. 

When questioned by deputies at the scene of the crime, Arnold reportedly said that she “tried to kill [her] mom.” Though the photos taken showed nonfatal wounds, the situation could have been much more serious, said the prosecution.

Deputy Public Defender Jeffery Economides argued in court that Arnold has since been stabilized by her medication and no longer hears voices.

Arnold’s hearing centered around the process and benefits of transferring her to a mental health facility rather than prison. 

Arnold has no previous criminal record and this incident occurred after she was taken off the steroids she was using for her issues with osteoporosis, noted PD Economides, adding the incident was an isolated occurrence and Arnold posed no further threat to society.

Economides suggested that the open door facility in question is predominantly male and accepts only a few dozen women. He said the fact that Arnold was accepted “speaks volumes” about the extent to which the facility believes it can help her.

Furthermore, Arnold’s mother and sister both want her to be in a support facility so she can get the help she needs. 

Arnold’s mother testified on her daughter’s behalf, stating she sincerely hopes that her daughter is able to recover.

Deputy District Attorney Lauren Donovan, however, raised concerns about Arnold being sent to an open facility. Given that Arnold has good physical health, there is nothing stopping her from walking out, said DDA Donovan.

Donovan mentioned the possibility of drugs being sold and used outside the facility, which she argued would be possible for Arnold to obtain. 

DDA Donovan instead pushed for a locked state hospital where Arnold could get the care she needed, which would mitigate the threat Arnold could potentially pose. 

The judge expressed concern about whether or not it was safe for Arnold to maintain contact with her victim, and about how she was to reach a state hospital, eventually ordering that when Arnold was released from custody, she was to have no contact with her mother.

Though no conclusion was reached about what facility she was to go to, the judge was adamant about getting Arnold out within a year so her social security benefits would not expire. 

The case will reconvene on Nov. 2.

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About The Author

Amy is a UCLA student majoring in English and Philosophy. She is interested in law and is from Burbank, California.

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