General Crime

* Diane Warrick pleaded not guilty to charges that she stabbed an elderly woman to death in her Pleasant Hill home in Martinez

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A Pleasant Hill caretaker pleaded not guilty today to charges that she stabbed an elderly woman to death in her Pleasant Hill home in June.Diane Warrick, 56, the victim’s live-in caretaker, pleaded not guilty in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez to murder and denied an enhancement that she used a knife to kill 70-year-old Mary Jane Scanlon.Scanlon was found dead inside her home in the 1800 block of Elinora Drive in Pleasant Hill on June 23, police said. Warrick had been hired through a Craigslist ad to care for Scanlon, who was in a wheelchair, and had recently become her live-in caretaker, police said.Prosecutors said shortly after Warrick’s arrest that the attack appeared to have followed a minor dispute about where Warrick parked her car.Warrick has a history of mental problems and had previously been committed to Patton State Hospital in Southern California for life, according to Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein. Her commitment stemmed from a 1997 incident in which she shot at four Napa County sheriff’s deputies at Napa State Hospital. She was convicted in 1999 of four counts of attempted murder of a peace officer, three counts of kidnapping and one count each of burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm. But, during the sanity phase of the trial, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity. In 2002, Warrick returned to Napa County for a sanity hearing. The district attorney’s office contested Warrick’s request to be declared sane, but a judge found that she had regained sanity and was no
longer a danger to the public.  She was released to an outpatient program in Contra Costa County. In 2003, she was released to a community treatment program in Contra Costa County, Lieberstein said. Warrick was in custody when she appeared in court today. She is scheduled to return to court Sept. 13 to set a date for a preliminary hearing.
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