Mary O’Keefe, now 65 years old, appeared in Bass Lake Superior Court on Nov. 19 and changed her plea from not guilty, to not guilty by reason of insanity.
O’Keefe was arrested on Dec. 18, 2016, following an investigation by Madera County Sheriff’s deputies.
Detectives were called to Hale’s residence on Road 225 near North Fork on the morning of Dec. 17, 2016, when Bonnie’s son found his mother deceased on her front porch.
At about the same time, deputies were also dispatched to a welfare check of O’Keefe, who lived in the vicinity and was showing signs of having been in a physical fight. She was arrested and charged with first degree murder with an elder abuse enhancement.
Once O’Keefe was behind bars, she was evaluated by three mental health professionals and found to be competent to stand trial. However, there have been continued delays over the past 24 months as the defense has asked for more time to gather and evaluate evidence.
The change in plea will mean that O’Keefe will be evaluated again, this time by two medical professionals who will offer their opinions as to whether she was “insane” at the time of the homicide.
O’Keefe is scheduled to be back in court on Jan. 10, 2019, for a trial confirmation and ruling on the psychiatric evaluations. The trial date has been set for Feb. 26, 2019.
Bonnie Hale’s family members have made nearly two-dozen trips to Bass Lake Court, hoping to get justice for Bonnie. Now, with the closing of the Bass Lake Courthouse, they will have to travel to Madera for all future proceedings.
Bonnie was 76 years old at the time of her death. She was a well-known and beloved member of the community, formerly of the North Fork Rancheria Tribal Council, and the mother of six children.