Hearing postponed for Middletown woman’s insanity plea in sister’s fatal shooting

Monica Pennington is charged with murdering her sister in Middletown last year.
Monica Pennington is charged with murdering her sister in Middletown last year.(Butler County Jail)
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:53 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 8:59 AM EDT

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WXIX) - A hearing was delayed Thursday for a Middletown woman charged with murdering her sister who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Keith Spaeth recently ruled Monica Pennington was restored to competency and set her trial for Sept. 12.

Her attorney, however, entered a not guilty by reason of insanity plea on her behalf after she was charged last year.

That requires the judge to order another psychological evaluation and hold another hearing.

It was set for 9 a.m. Thursday but was postponed because the evaluation report was not submitted to the court yet.

The insanity plea claims a person suffered from a mental defect at the time of the alleged crime. They couldn’t know or understand the nature of their actions or distinguish the difference between right and wrong - and that it was wrong.

Ultimately, the jury - or judge in the event of a bench trial - decides if they believe it.

Incompetence to stand trial refers to a defendant’s ability to assist in their own defense and understand the charges against them at the time they are charged. The judge overseeing the case determines that, not a jury.

While Pennington’s case works through the court system, she continues to be held at Butler County Jail in lieu of a $650,000 bond.

She was indicted on October 20, 2021, in her sister’s shooting death during a physical fight.

Pennington, 49, admitted to shooting her sister with her own pistol during the dispute, which involved alcohol, police have said.

She told Middletown police the death of her older sister, Pamela Pennington, 52, was meant to be a murder-suicide but her sister didn’t go through with the suicide, according to prosecutors.

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