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Another Delay In Murder Trial Of North Fork Woman

Mary O’Keefe booking photo – Madera County DOC

BASS LAKE — The woman accused in the death of North Fork resident Bonnie Hale was back in Bass Lake Superior Court today; her attorney asking for yet another continuance.

Mary O’Keefe, 63, of North Fork, was arrested on Dec. 18, 2016, and charged with first degree murder after Hale was found deceased on the patio of her own home.

An autopsy showed that Hale died of asphyxiation as a result of blunt force trauma to the throat.

The defendant has often appeared a bit confused in court, and has been examined by three different doctors to determined her mental competency to stand trial.

However, when the defense requested another continuance to allow O’Keefe to be examined by yet another mental health professional, the judge said it was “time to move on, and bring this portion of the proceedings to a close.”

“There have been differing reports, and you can’t keep adding another doctor in the hopes you get the desired opinion,” said Judge Charles Weiland. “One says she’s competent, another says she’s not. It will be up to the trier of fact to make that determination, and these delays just keep piling up expenses.”

There have been numerous continuances since O’Keefe’s preliminary hearing was originally set for Jan. 5. Today, the judge agreed to just one more, and the question of the defendant’s competency — and whether that issue will be put before a jury — will likely be settled at the next court date set for Aug. 22.

Linn says he believes O’Keefe is competent, and that it’s “more probable than not that the case will proceed to trial.”

 O’Keefe remains behind bars on a $1 million bond.

North Fork Woman Arrested For Murder

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