WARNING: The details in this story are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.
An Edmonton mother charged with second-degree murder in her daughter’s December 2016 death pleaded not guilty to the charge on the first day of her trial Wednesday morning.
Christine Longridge also pleaded not guilty to a charge of possession of a dangerous weapon, in connection to the death of her daughter, Rachael Longridge.
On Dec. 23, 2016, police were called to a home in the area of 122 Avenue and 132 Street. Rachael Longridge, 21, was found with severe injuries and died at the scene.
Police said she died of “multiple sharp forced injuries.”
In court on Wednesday, an agreed statement of facts outlined a long history of mental illness. The defence in the case argued Christine Longridge was not criminally responsible for the crime.
The defence said Christine Longridge suffered from mental illness and did not know what was right and what was wrong.
Court heard Christine Longridge had psychotic breaks after the birth of her son. She was diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenic disorder in 1999.
Court heard Christine Longridge had been prescribed medication but that she stopped taking it a couple of years ago, after her husband’s death.
The document stated Christine Longridge thought her son was the Messiah and in order to save him, both she and her daughter must die.
Court heard that Longridge’s son, Michael, walked into the family home on the day of his sister’s death to see his mother over top of Rachael “chopping at her neck with a cleaver.”
“My mind went. That’s all I know. My mind went. I don’t know what was going on,” Christine Longridge said in a statement to police after the killing, court heard.
Friends and family members in court wiped away tears as they heard the evidence.
The defence called a family friend to testify. Don Metz, who has known Christine since the 1970s, said she was a loving mother. He said he wasn’t aware of the severity of her illness until a couple of years ago.
“I never really realized any sort of severity until after her husband died,” Metz said outside the court house.
“And in that next year, I found her to be quite quiet and quite introverted. But never, ever, ever saw any level of anger or outrageous behaviour or angst all. She was a very quiet person.”
While the agreed statement of facts was read in court, Christine Longridge sat in the prisoner’s box resting her head on the wall, her face emotionless.
Watch: During Day 2 of the trial for an Edmonton woman accused of killing her 21-year-old daughter, a forensic psychiatrist testified about Christine Longridge’s mental state. Julia Wong reports.
Longridge’s lawyer, Dino Bottos, argued that his client should not be found criminally responsible. Bottos says he doesn’t think Longridge knew what she was doing was wrong.
Bottos noted Longridge had a long, well-documented history with mental illness.
“She wasn’t just this one awful person that committed this one awful crime. She was not herself that night,” he said.
Bottos says Longridge is now taking the appropriate medication for her condition. He says he doesn’t think she’ll ever recover from the realization of what has happened.
“You can imagine how anguished she’d feel knowing what she’s done, killing her own daughter,” he said outside the court.
With files from Global’s Fletcher Kent and Julia Wong.