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Mother Who Took Children's Lives Declared Insane

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Mother Who Took Children’s Lives Declared Insane

Mrs. Walker Ordered Confined To Ionia State Hospital

Mrs. Victoria Walker, 24-year-old mother accused of murdering her two children, was declared insane yesterday and ordered confined to the State Hospital for the criminally insane at Ionia “until cured.”

Circuit Judge James R. Breakey, jr., announced his verdict after hearing testimony from two psychiatrists who agreed Mrs. Walker is mentally unbalanced and incompetent to stand trial.

The court’s decision was vigorously opposed by Defense Attorney Francis W. Schilling. Disputing the expert testimony, he claimed his client is of sufficiently sound mind to be tried immediately.

Michigan statutes require that a defendant in a criminal case be capable of understanding the nature of legal proceedings, be aware of his condition and its relation to the case, and be able to assist in preparation of his defense.

Declared Unfit

When confronted with those standards by Prosecutor John W. Rae, both Dr. O. R. Yoder, superintendent of the Ypsilanti State Mental hospital, and Dr. Ralph M. Patterson, of the University’s Neuro-Psychiatric Institute, declared Mrs. Walker "unfit for trial.”

The two experts concurred in the finding that the young woman is “definitely insane.” They said her state of mind is characterized by “compulsive acts, fears, phobias, and pronounced suicidal tendencies.”

Mrs. Walker has twice attempted suicide, once immediately after the double-shooting, which she has admitted, and again at the Ypsilanti hospital where she has been confined.

Schilling contended it would be wiser to try Mrs. Walker now, have her acquitted on an insanity plea, and then commit her to institutional care. He claimed the pending murder charge would retard her recovery.

Dr. Yoder answered by reiterating her unfitness for trial and said he “doubted” if the murder count would “greatly influence” the value of treatment. He admitted it might become “an additional depressing factor.”

Hope For Recovery

Both doctors held out hopes for an eventual complete recovery, but declined to estimate the time required. They emphasized the need for hospitalization and modern psychiatric treatment.

Mrs. Walker sat motionless and silent through the hour-long session, but burst into tears as Judge Breakey announced his decision and had to be helped from the courtroom. Her husband, Earl Walker, sat with her during the hearing.

The frail young woman, who is but five feet tall and weighs less than 90 pounds, was closely guarded during her stay in court. Officers explained they feared still another attempt at self destruction.

The hearing grew out of charges brought by Rae after Mrs. Walker shot and instantly killed her two youngsters, aged two and three, in their home at 1645 S. Maple Rd. On April 12. She then turned the gun, a .22 caliber rifle, on herself.