Woman found sane by jury now accused of grandchild's killing

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A California woman suspected of fatally stabbing her 1-year-old granddaughter and knifing her daughter and another young granddaughter was deemed sane by a jury in 2015 after spending nearly a decade in a state psychiatric hospital and outpatient treatment program.

Nicole Darrington-Clark, 43, was sent to the psychiatric facility after being found not guilty by reason of insanity in stabbing her 14-year-old son and throwing her 10-year-old daughter out of a moving minivan in 2005.

That daughter, Glorias Clark, is recovering at a hospital following the attack Monday that left her with multiple stab wounds, killed one of her daughters and wounded another. Darrington-Clark was arrested Tuesday after about 24 hours on the run.

Glorias Clark testified on her mother's behalf at the 2015 Los Angeles County Superior Court proceeding, where a jury said Darrington-Clark's sanity had been restored after a decade of treatment. The decision meant she no longer required court-mandated psychiatric care.

Dr. Elyn Saks, a law professor at the University of Southern California with expertise in mental health law, said in insanity cases, the accused are given the opportunity to resolve their mental health issues through treatment. That can happen quickly, over a long period or never.

Saks said the person can petition the court for a trial — either before a judge or jury — to prove their sanity has been restored, they understand right and wrong, and no longer are a danger to themselves or others.

Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, said his office "strongly opposed" Darrington-Clark's petition. He noted that unlike criminal trials, jury verdicts in restoration-of-sanity cases do not have to be unanimous.

An attorney who represented Darrington-Clark at her hearing and a doctor who testified on her behalf did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman at the California Department of State Hospitals said officials can't comment on individual cases.

Darrington-Clark's sister, LaShunda Clark, and father, Samuel Clark, said they were concerned about her well-being once treatment ended but that she seemed to improve. But she became distraught when she was separated last year from her special-needs son, who is now 5.

After some time apart, she returned to live with her husband and son in Riverside County. She had gone to visit Glorias Clark on Monday in Colton, her sister said, adding she did not know what triggered the attack.

"None of us has slept in the last two days. It has been terrible for our family," LaShunda Clark said. "I just don't understand. We don't know. We're just asking God to just keep her safe."

Investigators have not said if they determined a motive for the attack that killed 18-month-old Damani Trouter and left her sister with stab wounds. The sister, whose name has not been released, was in stable condition at a hospital.

A GoFundMe site to raise money for Damani's funeral said Glorias did not learn of her baby's death until she came out of surgery and asked for her daughters. The page described Damani and her sister as inseparable.

Darrington-Clark was arrested Tuesday in San Bernardino after deputies found her in a car parked behind a business.


Taxin reported from Santa Ana. Associated Press writer John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


Follow Amy Taxin on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ataxin and Michael Balsamo at http://twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1.