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Warhola sent back to Utah State Hospital to restore mental competency

By Mark Shenefelt - | Dec 3, 2021

Standard-Examiner file photo

Sun Cha Warhola

FARMINGTON — It’s back to the Utah State Hospital for murder defendant Sun Cha Warhola, who already spent nine years there to have her mental competency restored so she could stand trial in the deaths of her two young children.

Doctors deemed the 55-year-old competent in 2019 and she was days away from trial three months ago when her attorney reported she was regressing. That led 2nd District Judge Michael Edwards to order another review of her competency.

The review report came back this week saying she lacks competency again, and Edwards on Wednesday signed an order approving Warhola’s commitment to the state hospital in Provo. Since 2019, Warhola has been held in the Davis County Jail.

“It’s not uncommon that patients will deteriorate after a change of setting,” said Brandon Poll, a deputy Davis County attorney who is prosecuting the case. “To be in a setting like the jail, it is not uncommon for mental health to deteriorate.”

Warhola’s attorney, Edward Brass, said in a September motion that he met with Warhola twice and spoke by telephone several times in July after prosecutors proposed a plea bargain. Warhola faces two counts of first-degree felony aggravated murder.

He said Warhola appeared to understand the details of the offer, asked questions and “seemed to be otherwise healthy and in good spirits.”

But after another meeting with her at the Davis County Jail on Aug. 25 and a phone conversation with her the next day, Brass said he concluded Warhola “has deteriorated physically and mentally.”

He said she could not recall details of the plea bargain offer and she insisted that her psychiatrist at the State Hospital, not Davis prosecutors, had made the offer. Brass said Warhola slept until 1 p.m. on the days he met with her, and he said she was “influenced in her decision making by her cellmates.”

She vacillated between meeting with him alone and speaking English or requiring a Korean interpreter, Brass said. And she said she wanted to reject any plea offer because “her reasoning is that she is innocent of the charges.”

Brass said Warhola told him he was “not doing enough to prove her innocence, and that the deaths of her children were caused by the government.”

Warhola was arrested shortly after the Sept. 8, 2010, deaths of her children, James, 8, and Jean, 7, in Layton. Authorities said the children were strangled.

Edwards set another review hearing for March 8.

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