MADERA — Mary O’Keefe has pled guilty in the 2016 murder of well-known North Fork resident Bonnie Hale.
On Tuesday, Madera County District Attorney Sally Moreno confirmed the news while appearing before the Madera County Board of Supervisors.
“The defendant pled to the homicide as well as a first-degree residential burglary and elder abuse on the victim, Bonnie Hale,” Moreno said Tuesday morning.
“The defendant will be ordered to serve more than 13 years in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” according to the district attorney, who in her update to supervisors, praised deputy D.A. Brooke Bergman’s handling of the O’Keefe prosecution.
Hale, a seventy-six-year old mother of six and former member of the North Fork Rancheria Tribal Council, was a well-respected and much loved figure in the North Fork community.
O’Keefe, 66, also a North Fork resident at the time of the incident, was represented by Melissa Baloian, a private, court-appointed lawyer. She has been held without bond since 2016.
Prior to her last court appearance in September, O’Keefe talked briefly with her lawyer but did not speak during the two-minute-long proceeding.
Detectives from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office were originally called to Hale’s residence on Road 225 near North Fork on the morning of Dec. 17, 2016, after 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 subsequently arrested and charged with first degree murder with an elder abuse enhancement.
On Nov. 30 of last year, O’Keefe appeared at the Bass Lake Courthouse and changed her original ‘not guilty’ plea to a plea of ‘not guilty by reason of insanity.’
A year and a half later, and after the Bass Lake Courthouse’s closure, the victim’s relatives continued to make the trip into Madera to witness O’Keefe’s various court appearances, wearing purple t-shirts emblazoned with Hale’s smiling image and a message: “Justice for Bonnie Hale.”
Once O’Keefe changed her plea, she was evaluated by three different mental health professionals.