Judge accepts Isabella Guzman's insanity plea; accused of stabbing mother 151 times

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. - After finding probable cause that a 19-year woman, who stabbed her mother 151 times, committed first-degree murder, an Arapahoe County judge on Thursday accepted the teenager's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

As a result, Isabella Guzman will not go to prison, but instead will be sent to the State Hospital in Pueblo for treatment.

When asked why prosecutors asked the judge to accept the plea, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said, "Look, the job of the district attorney is to pursue justice. And at first blush, when you look at this case, you see a horrific and violent murder by a daughter towards her mother. I've never seen a person with that many stab wounds. She stabbed her over 150 times.  So you want that person to be held accountable."

"But our system is a system that is not just conviction-laden or prison-laden, but justice-bound, and you have to look at this component, which is mental health," Brauchler stressed.

Brauchler said the State Hospital had a longer than normal opportunity to review Guzman's mental health.

"They had an opportunity to administer and tweak the drugs that might affect her psychology," he said. "The end conclusion was that she suffers from a mental illness that kept her from being able to form the ability to know right from wrong -- both legally and morally."

In the horrifying attack, Guzman stabbed her mother in the face, neck, arms and torso on Aug. 28, 2013. She also beat her with a baseball bat.

Initial reports stated she'd stabbed her mom 79 times, but in court Thursday police testified that 151 individual stab wounds were discovered on Yun-Mi Hoy's body.  She was stabbed 35 times in the face and 51 times in the neck.

Court documents indicate that Guzman had a contentious relationship with her mother, Yun-Mi Hoy, who had been concerned enough with the teen's threatening behavior to call police at 5:02 p.m. on the day of the attack.

According to court documents, Guzman had emailed her mother saying "you will pay" and had spit in her face the day before the murder.

Aurora police officers came to their house on a report of a family dispute. Officers said they found no hostility or rage at the house.

They warned Guzman, who was 18 at the time, that her mother could kick her out of the house for her behavior.

It seemed to calm Guzman down and she stayed in her room most of the day, her stepfather, Ryan Hoy, said.

Then at 10:11 p.m., the stepfather called 911 to report that the teen was beating his wife in a locked bathroom.

The stepfather later told police he heard a thump. He ran upstairs and saw blood oozing out from under the bathroom door, according to court records.

He ran downstairs, called 911, and while on the phone with the dispatcher, he saw Guzman leaving the bathroom with a knife in her hand, staring straight ahead and not saying a word.

Hoy found his wife naked, lying next to a baseball bat, surrounded by blood.

He told the 911 operator, "Oh my God, I think my wife is dead."

After the killing, police say Guzman fled the home. She went to a woman's restroom at a nearby H Mart, washed her hair in the sink and changed her clothes. They say she told employees that she had been raped in Denver and asked them not to call police, because they would send her back home and she was in fear of her father.

When police tracked Guzman down the next day, she told them they had the wrong person. She said she was Samantha Gonzales from Cincinnati, Ohio. Police held up her ID card, but the teen said, "It looks like me, but it's not."

Officers recovered a blood-covered knife in the lower level of a parking garage where they took Guzman into custody.

Aurora Police Det. Mark Yacano testified that Guzman's boyfriend said they'd broken up two days before she killed her mom.

"He said he went to the house to pick up his shoes and Guzman chased him out with a golf club," Yacano said.

Defense attorneys asked that the mental health portion of the testimony be closed to the public, but Judge Elizabeth Weishauple ruled otherwise.

During that testimony, Dr. Richard Pounds said Guzman was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

"There were obvious signs of hallucinating," Pounds said. "She was staring into space, having conversations with people who were not present, and she was laughing at herself."

Pounds says Guzman responded to treatment.

When asked how long Guzman might be at the State Hospital, Brauchler said, "For an indeterminate period of time."

 "It will be until these state doctors determine that she is no longer a risk or threat to herself or the community. It could be a year, two years. It could be the remainder of her life," Brauchler added.

Brauchler told 7NEWS that spending time at the State Hospital won't be a walk in the park.

"It's not just 'here's a couple of pills, you're good to go, see you later,'" he said. "There's a process we'll go through and it's not an easy process. It requires her to come back to this courtroom to have a hearing on such issues. So, it's not just as simple as, 'good luck, we'll see you some other time.' This is a very deliberate controlled process that seeks to protect the community, to protect that woman, but also to obtain justice."

The DA said this was not an easy decision.

"These are tough decisions on their face," Brauchler said, "because you have someone who committed such a violent act of murder against a completely innocent and defenseless woman. Her mother was in the shower when she stabbed her 151 times. But, we're not in the business of just locking up everybody who has transgressed the law… We punish people who make decisions to do wrong when they knew better and could have done something differently."

Brauchler said that, in this particular case, he's convinced, based on the evidence he's seen, that Guzman did not know right from wrong.

"I was convinced of it," he said. "And in the interest of justice I had to take these steps."

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