Judge denies release for mom who slashed daughter's throat
A woman who murdered her 4-year-old daughter in 2010 but was found not guilty by reason of insanity will remain in the care of the state's Department of Human Services for the immediate future.
DuPage County Judge George Bakalis on Monday denied Marci Webber's request for conditional release but said he will revisit it in six months. He also put a series of conditions in place to assist her with any future transition to freedom.
Webber, 50, was sentenced to a lifetime of involuntary commitment in 2012 after she was found not guilty of first-degree murder by reason of insanity. Authorities said she slashed her daughter's throat at her mother's home in Bloomingdale and then turned the knife on herself.
Webber, who blamed the 2010 psychotic episode on psychotropic medicine, has not taken medication in four years and said she would continue to be drug-free, even if the drugs were ordered as part of her eventual discharge plan.
Bakalis, in an eight-page written decision, said he will not force Webber to take medication as long as her symptoms are in remission. But he said both Webber and the human services department have work to do.
"Proof in this case is upon the petitioner. The court has not been convinced by clear, convincing evidence that petitioner is ready for discharge," Bakalis wrote. "What is appropriate is for DHS to do what should have been done some time ago -- establish a plan for petitioner's eventual transition to society. Petitioner and DHS are to be faulted for not working in tandem to achieve this goal."
Bakalis ordered the director of the Chicago-Read Mental Health Center to establish a plan for her release. The conditions he laid out include transferring Webber from the acute care unit into the chronic care unit and for her to be granted unsupervised ground privileges for two months.
If there are no problems during that time, she is to be granted supervised off-ground privileges for three months. She also is ordered to participate in a counseling program involving psychiatric and substance abuse issues.
Bakalis said he'll reconsider Webber's request in about six months.
"The court must, however, be convinced at that time that both parties have, in good faith, worked toward petitioner's ultimate release," Bakalis wrote. "The court must be shown at that time that petitioner's mental illness remains in remission during this transition stage. The court must be shown that defendant's mental illness and alcohol abuse remain in inactive status when she has been in situations outside of the secured environment of Read."
Outside court, Webber called the decision to keep her committed a "travesty of justice."
"As far as an on-grounds pass and, in two months, off-grounds supervised pass, these things should have been given to me a long time ago," Webber said. "Had I been able to present an involuntary intoxication defense, by law and by the facts, I should have gone home after trial."
A forensic psychologist testified during her 2012 trial that Webber appeared to have suffered a "break with reality" when she slashed her daughter's throat.
Police arrived to find Webber had written in blood the words "divine mercy," "Satan" and "evil" on the walls near the crime scene.
Webber later told police that secret societies were out to kill her and she needed to protect her daughter from being kidnapped by the devil and sold into sexual slavery.
"I'm horrified at what I did. I was a law student. I was a mother," she said outside court on Monday. "I volunteered for many kids groups and taught them art and how to read and write. I love children."
Her next scheduled court date is May 14.