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Sebastopol woman pleads not guilty to mother's killing

  • Julia Franzen in Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa in 2013. (Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat, 2013)

A Sebastopol woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to stabbing her mother to death.

Julia Franzen, 25, is charged with murder in last year's slaying of Nancy Franzen, 59, in her Tocchini Road home.

Franzen was initially deemed mentally incompetent and was treated for about six months at Napa State Hospital. At the time, she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Homicide Investigation In Sebastopol


But doctors said her mental health was restored. She returned to Sonoma County jail earlier this year and a judge last month reinstated criminal proceedings against her.

On Tuesday, Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite scheduled a preliminary hearing for May 28. It will determine if there is enough evidence for the murder charge. Prosecutors will call numerous witnesses in a hearing that is estimated to take six hours.

Nancy Franzen, a former nurse, was killed Feb. 4, 2013. Later the same day, police arrested her daughter outside the home after neighbors reported seeing her with a knife and blood covering her hands.

Investigators believe Franzen chased her mother from room to room, stabbing her multiple times, before the older woman collapsed from her wounds.

She faces a life prison sentence if convicted.

It is not clear if Franzen will allege she was insane at the time of the killing. If found not guilty by reason of insanity, she could be sent to a state hospital instead of prison.

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