SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A woman accused of fatally shooting her 74-year-old great-aunt in the victim's Tierrasanta home 11 days before Christmas is mentally incompetent to stand trial and will be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment, a judge ruled Monday.
Tiffany Nicole Burney, 23, is charged with murder in the death of Daisy Mae Hayes.
After reviewing a doctor's report, Superior Court Judge Frederick Maguire ruled that Burney was unable to understand the charges against her and could not assist her attorney at trial.
Burney will stay at Patton State Hospital for up to three years, or until her competency is restored. If criminal proceedings are reinstated and the defendant is convicted, she faces 50 years to life in prison.
At Burney's arraignment last year, Deputy District Attorney Roy Lai alleged the defendant shot her great-aunt four times in the face from close range in the early morning hours of Dec. 14.
Lai said Hayes was at a hospital the previous day taking care of her husband of 55 years, who was recovering from back surgery.
Burney was apparently let into the victim's home early the next morning, because there were no signs of a struggle, the prosecutor said.
Burney fired five shots at her great-aunt, with four hitting the victim in the face and head, according to Lai.
Hayes' body was found the night of Dec. 14 in the living room of her Gabacho Drive home after relatives were unable to reach her and went to the residence to check on her welfare.
Burney, the granddaughter of the victim's sister, was arrested three days later in La Mesa.
The prosecutor said the defendant lived a transient lifestyle and police had trouble locating her after the shooting.
Burney was an "angry, frustrated and unstable" individual who had access to an unregistered revolver and used it to kill her great-aunt, he alleged.
According to court records, Burney was the subject of two mental health cases filed in 2010 and also filed a lawsuit against the county mental health agency in August of that year.
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