Woman accused of stabbing mother to death stands trial

Melissa Bal is charged with murder, and now attorneys will determine whether she was sane at the time of the crime. She's charged with murder after killing Lydia Bal in what she told authorities was a "satanic practice."

Bal was in court on Thursday for her preliminary hearing, and will now stand trial. Two Merced County sheriff's detectives testified in court, describing the interview with Bal on how she decided to take her mother's life.

Bal was arrested at the site of her parents' travel trailer where deputies found the victim. Reports show that Bal's mother was stabbed more than 20 times. The 911 call was played in the courtroom, Bal seemed calm at the beginning of the call, but minutes in, her demeanor took a turn.

Bal has a history of mental illness. Prosecutors say the challenge will be determining if she was sane at the time of the crime.

"Whether there any mental illness or mental abnormality does not mean someone was legally insane at the time of the offense. Somebody can be suffering from a mental illness, or mental abnormality but still be legally sane for the criminal courts," Merced County Deputy DA, Travis Colby explained.

However, her attorney says based on the call, she believes that Bal never has the desire to kill her mother but that her mental issues could be to blame.

"It's not always whether or not somebody committed an act, sometimes is about what was going through their mind, and whether or not they were able to comprehend the wrongness of what they were doing, Deputy Public Defender, Stephanie Jamieson said.

Bal is due back in court in two weeks for her arraignment on the information.
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