EDMONTON — An Edmonton mother who was mentally ill when she nearly decapitated her daughter has been found not criminally responsible in the young woman’s death.
A judge has ruled that Christine Longridge intended to kill her daughter, Rachael, who was 21 and a nursing student when she died in December 2016. But the judge said a mental disorder prevented Longridge from understanding that what she was doing was morally wrong.
Longridge pleaded not guilty at the start of her trial last week to second-degree murder and possession of an offensive weapon.
An agreed statement of facts presented in court said Longridge has had a long history of mental illness and had stopped taking her medication after her husband died in 2015.
Court heard that Longridge killed her daughter to fulfil what the defence called a “Messiah mission.”
“In order to save her son Michael, who she thought was the Messiah, she was compelled to kill Rachael and then herself,” lawyer Dino Bottos said of his client.
Longridge was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1999 after her son was born. She had been hospitalized four times, the last time in late November 2016, weeks before Rachael’s death.
Both the Crown and defence asked Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Wayne Renke for a not criminally responsible verdict.
“There’s still a lifetime of grieving and loss and torment, so we’re not expecting much relief any time soon. This was simply the best result of a terrible tragedy,” Bottos said outside court after Renke gave his decision Wednesday.
Longridge will not be subject to criminal penalties. She remains at Alberta Hospital, where she is to appear before a review board within 45 days.
“The review board will have a hearing … and what happens during that time is that they will order an assessment,” prosecutor Ahluwalia Sony said.
Bottos said it’s believed Longridge will be ordered to stay at the mental hospital a year and that her progress will be reviewed every 12 months.
“Over the course of what I’m going to imagine are several years of recovery — hopefully recovery — each year they will review her case, and determine whether incremental steps of privileges might be given to her,” he said.
Don Metz, a longtime family friend, testified at the trial that Longridge, 51, was a loving, supportive mother who was quiet and shy.
“Nobody saw this coming,” he said.