Mother found ‘legally insane’ at time of stabbing but competent to stand trial for double murder
Appearing in court a day before the one-year anniversary of the tragic stabbing deaths of her two children on Thursday, Claudia Camacho-Duenes’ double-murder case was set for a three-week trial in June.
Ninth District Attorney Jeff Cheney and the local state public defender’s office on Wednesday received a report from the Colorado Mental Health Hospital in Pueblo that found Camacho-Duenes, 38, competent to stand trial but “legally insane” at the time of the incident on Dec. 30, 2021.
No objections were made to the report, and both Cheney and lead Public Defender Elise Myer agreed to a jury trial to take place June 12-30, 2023.
The report itself, along with other filings related to the state of Camacho-Duenes’ mental health, have been suppressed by the court and are not being released to the media or the public.
Camacho-Duenes spent time at the Pueblo detention facility after her July plea of not guilty by reason of insanity before Garfield District Judge Denise Lynch. Camacho-Duenes is now back under the watch of the Garfield County Detention Center, being held on a $1-million bond. That bond amount was set in early January shortly after her arrest for the crimes.
The stabbing deaths rocked the Glenwood Springs community two days before the New Year holiday, when police were called at 2:34 p.m. Dec. 30, 2021, to the report of the stabbing incident at the Machebeuf Apartments on Soccer Field Road in West Glenwood, directly across from Glenwood Springs Middle School.
In police reports, numerous witnesses described watching and attempting to help as Camacho-Duenes’ 11-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son ran out of the apartment after suffering multiple stab wounds, and with their mother allegedly still in pursuit wielding a knife and continuing to stab them.
First responders rendered emergency aid, and the victims were taken to Valley View Hospital but did not survive.
Camacho-Duenes was arrested at the scene without further incident.
The deaths also deeply impacted students and staff at Glenwood Springs schools, including the nearby middle school where the younger child had attended school. The school district called in extra counselors and provided support resources to help people cope with the tragedy.
Glenwood Springs Police Chief Joseph Deras said, at the time of the incident, “This type of violence is uncharacteristic for our community, and our first responders, police, and fire are personally affected by this event. We recognize this affects everyone in our community, and we mourn this inexplicable loss of life of these two very young people.”
Because of the large number of expert and lay witnesses who are likely to be called to testify, and an expected two to three days to select a jury, the longer-than-usual trial duration was set by Judge Lynch.
A Jan. 31, 2023, deadline for pre-trial motions to be filed was also set, and a motions hearing that’s expected to take the better part of a day was set for Feb. 22.
Cheney said the father of the two victims, who was separated from Camacho-Duenes at the time of the incident, was listening to Thursday’s court proceedings via video conference from the DA’s Office in the courthouse building.
During the July 7 plea hearing, it was explained that the not guilty by insanity plea means Camacho-Duenas admits to murdering her two children, but that a jury can determine the insanity claim at trial.
“It will be presumed at the time of trial that you were sane at the time you committed these murders,” Judge Lynch advised Camacho-Duenas during that hearing.
The plea also meant Camacho-Duenas waived her right to medical confidentiality, and that psychiatric reports and testimonies can be used in cross-examination during the trial.
Post Independent interim Managing Editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at email@example.com or at 970-384-9160.
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