A San Francisco Superior Court jury today found a San Francisco mother guilty of first-degree murder and attempted murder for the 2006 killing of her young daughter and attempted killing of her son during a suicide attempt.The jury in the trial of Linda Woo, 42, deliberated for about a day before returning their decision late this afternoon. They deadlocked on a third charge, assault resulting in the death of a child under age 8, and a mistrial was declared on that charge.The jurors will return to court Wednesday for the beginning of a second trial on Woo’s sanity at the time of the crimes.On March 29, 2006, Woo was found inside a car with her two unconscious children, her 3-year-old daughter Olive and 4-year-old son Carter, in the garage of the family’s Ingleside Terrace home. Olive was pronounced dead at the scene, while Carter later recovered at the hospital.Prosecutors alleged Woo, whose marriage had dissolved and recent boyfriend had left her, was attempting to asphyxiate herself and her two children with carbon monoxide, by lighting a portable barbecue inside the car.Woo pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.Her attorney Stuart Hanlon says she’s been diagnosed with “major depressive disorder,” a form of mental illness much more severe than depression.Hanlon noted during closing statements to the jury that Woo had cheated on her husband, and argued that when the man with whom she cheated ended their relationship, her illness created “severe obsessed ruminations and very, very disturbed thoughts,” including “recurrent thoughts of death and suicide.”Hanlon said today that he was not surprised by the verdict, but added that he felt the real case begins with the sanity phase of the trial. He said”everybody agrees” that Woo’s condition meets the legal definition of insanity.Hanlon said the assault count on which the jury had hopelessly deadlocked had been “mischarged” by prosecutors and is normally applied to cases such as shaken-baby deaths.Prosecutor Marshall Khine had argued carbon monoxide poisoning was an assault. “It doesn’t matter what form it takes,” he said.”We’re talking about something that is real, that is tangible, that is deadly, and did in fact, kill,” Khine said.Khine said Woo lit the barbecue grill inside the car and put her
children inside with the intent to suffocate them.”This is foreseeable,” he said. “It was the intended consequence of the defendant’s actions.”The sanity phase of Woo’s trial has been estimated to last into May.Should she be found to have been insane at the time of the murder and attempted murder, Woo would be sent to a state mental hospital instead of receiving a life sentence in prison.
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