Keizer woman accused of murdering son ruled unfit to stand trial

A Marion County judge has ruled that the Keizer woman accused of strangling her 12-year-old son to death is mentally unfit to proceed with trial.

Following a psychological examination, Amy Robertson, 38, was found unfit to aid in her own defense. She was ordered into the custody of the Oregon State Hospital on May 2.

Robertson was arrested in January after her youngest son, Caden Berry, was found unresponsive in her Keizer apartment. An autopsy revealed Caden was strangled.

She was charged with aggravated murder, murder by abuse and two counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment for allegedly killing Caden on Jan. 13 and abusing her surviving 14-year-old son.

Background: Keizer boy, 12, died of strangulation; mother charged

On Jan. 14, a neighbor spotted a panicked Robertson waving her arms around outside her home.

The neighbor, Brenda King, said she asked Robertson what was wrong.

"She said, 'I'm just thinking about my son that died,' and I thought she was talking about the one who died in 2011," King told the Statesman Journal.

One of Roberton's sons, Colby, committed suicide in November 2011. He was 12 years old.

Eventually, Robertson calmed down and told King that her son Caden was inside the house with a blanket over his head.

While King was on the phone with 911 dispatchers, she said, Robertson walked to a next door neighbor to ask for a cigarette.

Robertson continued smoking outside until paramedics and police arrived. She was later arrested, taken to Marion County jail and held without bail.

Robertson's defense team requested a psychological evaluation.

Her attorney Steven Gorham said because of her mental problems, Robertson was unable to help her defense team represent her.

A clinical and forensic psychologist evaluated Robertson and submitted her findings to the court.

"(She) clearly has a mental disease," Gorham said.

Marion County Judge Lindsay Partridge found Robertson unable to aid and assist in her own defense. He committed her to the custody of the state hospital for treatment and later sealed the psychological evaluation.

According to court records, the proceedings against her are suspended until she is found fit to proceed.

Gorham said it could take as little as a week or as much as several years for Robertson to become mentally fit. If she is still under commitment after three months, hospital officials will submit a report to the court on whether she is fit to proceed. The court will ultimately make the decision whether to continue with proceedings.

Under Oregon law, Robertson's maximum commitment while being unable to assist is three years. At that point, she could technically be released, but Gorham said officials could seek her civil commitment.

Once she's able to aid and assist in her defense, she could choose to plead not guilty, guilty or guilty except for insanity.

A guilty except for insanity plea would place her into the custody of the state's Psychiatric Security Review Board

Regardless of what lies ahead, Gorham said, what happened on Jan. 13 was devastating.

"It's a tragedy," he said.

Robertson's next status conference is scheduled for Aug. 2 at 8 a.m.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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