Trial ruled too tall a task for alleged Atascadero child snatcher
July 17, 2015
A woman accused of abducting a 4-year-old boy from an Atascadero homeless shelter will stay in a mental hospital, rather than standing trial for her alleged crimes. [Tribune]
Annette Hale, 56, allegedly kidnapped a then-4-year-old Atascadero boy in August 2011. Police later found the boy after receiving a tip, a call believed to have been made by Hale herself, that he was at a vacant car dealership.
In court, Hale admitted to kidnapping the boy. But, as a defense, Hale said she was a CIA agent who was saving the boy from a woman pretending to be his mother.
On Thursday, a San Luis Obispo judge dismissed the criminal case against Hale. She had faced charges of kidnapping, child stealing and child endangerment under circumstances likely to produce great bodily harm or death.
Hale has received treatment in mental hospitals and has been declared competent to stand trial on multiple occasions. But each time, she again became incompetent upon returning to San Luis Obispo County Jail.
Earlier this year, a state hospital medical director sent a report to the court stating Hale’s competency had not been restored.
California law allows three years for a defendant charged with a felony to become competent to stand trial. Rarely does a defendant not become competent for trial within that period.
Hale is now under the conservatorship of the San Luis Obispo County public guardian’s office. The court has ordered the public guardian to place her in a locked institution for the mentally disabled.
The public guardian can also decide how to handle Hale’s money and medication.
It is unclear how long Hale will remain locked up.