Sanity trial for woman guilty of killing great aunt - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Sanity trial for woman guilty of killing great aunt

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A woman who fatally shot her 74-year-old great-aunt showed up at the victim's Tierrasanta home with the intent to kill and was sane at the time, a prosecutor said Tuesday, but a defense attorney said his client had been mentally ill for years and was legally insane when she killed her relative.

Tiffany Nicole Burney, 26, was convicted last week of first-degree murder in the Dec. 14, 2011, killing of Daisy Mae Hayes.

In her opening statement in the sanity phase of the trial, Deputy District Attorney Marisa Di Tillio said Burney planned the murder, buying a gun and ambushing her relative in the middle of the night.

Di Tillio said Burney shot her great-aunt out of anger and jealousy because the defendant didn't think she measured up to the rest of the family.

"She (Burney) did exactly what she set out to do," the prosecutor told the jury.

After her arrest, the defendant told detectives that she knew what she did was wrong, but she did it anyway, Di Tillio said.

Defense attorney Kevin Haughton countered that Burney had "no rational reason" to attack her great-aunt and was incapable of distinguishing that her act was morally wrong.

The defendant's schizoaffective disorder left her delusional with hallucinations, Haughton said.

In the days and weeks leading up to the murder, Burney was off her anti-psychotic medications, was spiraling out of control and couldn't distinguish right from wrong, Haughton said.

In the guilt phase of the trial, Haughton said Burney started hearing voices at age 11 and was first hospitalized for her mental illness when she was 13.

According to the prosecution, Burney showed up at the victim's door sometime after 3 a.m. and asked to use the bathroom. As Hayes waited on a couch, Burney emerged from the bathroom with a gun drawn and shot her four times in the face, the prosecutor said.

Di Tillio said Burney fled the scene and called police a few days later after checking into a hospital.

Burney confessed to the killing and told police she was angry because "everyone was winning and I was losing," Di Tillio told the jury during the guilt phase.

If Burney is found sane, she faces 50 years to life in prison. If jurors find that she was insane at the time of the murder, she would be sent to a state mental hospital.

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