The 37-year-old Dos Palos woman who is accused of killing her mother in an alleged “Satanic” sacrifice was held to answer for murder.
Melissa Bal was looking down while rocking back and forth in her chair as a 9-1-1 tape was played as evidence during a preliminary hearing on the murder charge Thursday in Merced Superior Court.
Two Merced County Sheriff’s Office detectives also testified during the hearing, in which Merced County Judge Jeanne Schechter determined there was enough evidence to head to trial.
Bal has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder for killing her mother, 55-year-old Lydia Marie Bal, on Oct. 11 inside a trailer in the 21000 block of Highway 33 in Dos Palos.
Responding officers found Bal covered in blood, according to investigators’ reports obtained by the Merced Sun-Star. Bal reportedly stabbed her mother during a struggle at least 20 times with an 8-inch kitchen knife.
During the 9-1-1 call played in court Thursday, a female voice identifying herself as Bal calmly tells the operator that she killed her mother by stabbing her and cutting her throat, and that she has a history of mental illness.
As the operator tried to get more information from Bal what happened, the Dos Palos woman suddenly snapped as if she starts to realize the gravity of what she had done.
“There’s no reason for it,” Bal said in the recording. “I don’t know.”
But in investigators’ reports, Bal told authorities “It was a calling to kill her” mother as part of a “satanic practice.” She also told them she has used a variety of illegal drugs, and she consumed five beers the night before the murder.
Family members and others told investigators Bal had mental issues and was making troubling statements of a sexual nature the night before, and that she would occasionally make statements referring to satanic practice.
Bal was declared mentally competent to face charges on Feb. 15 after several medical examinations.
Her attorney, Merced County Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Jamieson, acknowledged that her client appears to have confessed to killing her mother on the 9-1-1 call, but she said there may be more to Bal’s case.
“It’s not always about whether somebody committed an act, sometimes it’s about what was going on in their mind and whether or not they were able to comprehend the rightness or the wrongness they were doing,” Jamieson said.
Merced County Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby, who is prosecuting Bal’s case, said he will seek a murder conviction.
Bal is next scheduled for an arraignment on the murder charge on March 15.