An insanity plea failed for Los Altos resident Laura Jean Wenke this week during the final days of her jury trial.
The 53-year-old Los Altos resident was charged with attempting to murder her husband three years ago. She armored herself in bubble wrap, used a stun gun to incapacitate him and stabbed him multiple times with a knife. Wenke and her husband were in the midst of a divorce and she attacked him at his workplace in Redwood City.
Earlier this month the jury returned verdicts of guilty on all charges related to the attempted murder after approximately four hours of deliberation. According to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, during the just-completed sanity phase the jury deliberated for two days before finding the defendant sane at the time of the crimes.
Wenke faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and will return to court in August for sentencing.
The trial’s second phase featured testimony from mental health experts speaking for both the prosecution and the defense. For an insanity plea, the defense team needed to prove that Wenke was not responsible for her actions. Forensic mental examinations are used to establish an insanity defense. Under California penal code, a defendant must establish either that she didn’t understand the nature of her actions, or that she didn’t understand that what she was doing was morally wrong.
The defense presented two witnesses, a psychologist and a psychiatrist. The prosecution called on a psychiatrist, a psychologist and the investigating police detective.