It will take more time to determine if a Dos Palos woman charged with killing her own mother in an alleged “Satanic sacrifice” is mentally fit to stand trial.
Court proceedings for 37-year-old Melissa Anne Bal remained suspended Thursday after her court-appointed attorneys requested a second medical evaluation to determine if she is mentally competent to stand trial.
Melissa Bal faces murder charges after she was found covered in blood where her mother, 55-year-old Lydia Marie Bal, was found dead on Oct. 11 inside a fifth-wheel trailer in the 21000 block of Highway 33 in Dos Palos. Police arrived after Melissa Bal called 911 to report she had killed her mother, authorities have said.
Investigators' reports, obtained by the Merced Sun-Star, describe a gruesome series of events that ended with Melissa Bal stabbing her sleeping mother at least 20 times with an 8-inch kitchen knife.
The reports also include statements from family members and others claiming Melissa Bal has talked about Satanic messages, and that she has a history of mental illness and drug abuse.
Melissa Bal, who is in custody at the John Latorraca Correctional Center, was ordered last month to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is fit for trial.
The results of the evaluation, conducted by a psychologist, were submitted to attorneys Thursday. But Merced County Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Jamieson asked for a second opinion on her client from a psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist's report is due in court Dec. 19.
Merced County Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby, who is prosecuting the case, said cases similar to Melissa Bal's situation sometimes take a long time to conclude. He noted that a trial may be needed just to determine if she is competent to stand trial for murder.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562