Trial postponed in Denair attack on parents

rahumada@modbee.comJune 14, 2013 

A judge on Friday postponed a trial scheduled to start Aug. 6 for a 19-year-old woman who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the attack on her parents at the family's Denair home.

Defendant Shanna Wills is accused of beating her parents with a variety of household objects before stabbing them both with a decorative knife with an eagle on the handle on Mother's Day two years ago.

Her father, 62-year-old Kenneth Wills, died, but her mother, Susan Wills, survived and testified in her daughter's preliminary hearing last year.

Shanna Wills has been charged with murder in her father's death and attempted murder in the attack on her mother. She also has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon in the May 8, 2011, attack.

The judge has appointed two doctors who will examine Wills and submit to the court a report about her mental health. The attorneys, however, told the judge on Friday that they were not sure whether the doctors can conduct their examination, produce a report and be ready to testify in the August trial.

It's unclear whether a jury or a judge ultimately will decide whether Wills was suffering from mental illness when her parents were attacked. Either way, the decision will be based on testimony from the court-appointed doctors and anyone else with knowledge of her mental health or behavior.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge John Freeland canceled the Aug. 6 trial and a July 29 pretrial hearing. He scheduled another hearing Tuesday to reschedule the trial.

Wills was 17 when she was arrested shortly after the attack on her parents, but she is being prosecuted as an adult. She remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or (209) 578-2394.

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