UTICA –After nearly two weeks of complex medical testimony, psychiatrists who offered differing opinions of the same defendant, and graphic autopsy photos, a jury Friday afternoon found Tasheonia Hills guilty of her mother's murder. The jury deliberated between three and four hours.
Jurors got the case around 11:15 Friday afternoon. The judge broke for lunch at 1:00, at which point jurors hadn't asked for any readbacks of testimony. When they came back from lunch, a little after 2:00, the jury sent several notes, asking for various parts of testimony and evidence. They viewed body camera video of the Utica Police Officer who transported Hills from the murder scene to UPD. There was no audible exchange between the two. Then, jurors send a note saying they no longer needed to see UPD Sgt. Sabanovic's interview of Hills. Another note soon followed, saying that the jurors didn't need to see any additional evidence. Immediately after that note, a note saying they'd reached a verdict. The verdict: guilty of 2nd-degree murder and 4th-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The jury found the defendant did not prove the affirmative defense of not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect.
"I think when you look at the interview of Investigator Sabanovic, and her recollection of the events that preceeded that interview, I think the jury found she did not, by mental disease or defect, lack the ability to understand what she was doing last night," said Prosecutor, William Barry III.
Hills' defense attorney says she knew that, whatever the verdict, she'd lose her freedom for a long time. But he says he wishes she was going to a facility where she could get psychiatric help.
"I think it's pretty save to say that she had something wrong with her mentally that caused a number of these symptoms and problems. Again, the question is, whether it caused her not to truly comprehend what she was doing was wrong or understand the consequences of those actions. I'm assuming that's where the jury drew the line,"said Defense Attorney, Corey Zennamo.
Hills will be sentenced in Oneida County Court February 11th, at which time she faces between 15 and 25 years to life in prison for the murder of her mother, Irene Williams.