Jury finds Shumey legally sane



In the second phase of his murder trial, a 34-year-old San Luis Obispo man was determined to be legally sane at the moment he killed his mother outside of his downtown SLO apartment in September 2011.

On Feb. 16, jurors found that Christopher Shumey was able to differentiate between right and wrong when he shot Karen Shumey twice with a 12-gauge shotgun. The jury had previously found the defendant guilty of second-degree murder, as well as assault on police officers with a firearm.

For more than a week, jurors heard from a number of expert witnesses for the defense as well as the prosecution, namely Shumey’s long-time psychiatric physician, as well as other physicians who had evaluated Shumey’s mental state before and after the shooting.

Pierre Blahnik, Shumey’s public defender, had argued that Shumey had a long, 15-year history of severe mental illness that began during his senior year as a student at UC Santa Cruz and had varied in intensity in the years since.

Blahnik also argued that Shumey was in the middle of a suicide attempt when his mother returned to his apartment following a heated argument between the two.

Deputy District Attorney Karen Grey countered that Shumey reloaded the shotgun before shooting his mother a second time and made statements to officers following the incident that showed he understood the gravity of the situation.

Unlike the initial guilt phase of the trial, the burden of proof in a sanity phase rested on the defense to prove the defendant was not sane at the time of a crime. Blahnik could not immediately be reached for comment on whether his client plans to appeal.

Shumey is scheduled for sentencing March 21.

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