FARMINGTON — After nearly nine years of receiving treatment at the Utah State Hospital, a former Layton woman was deemed competent to stand trial in the strangulation deaths of her two children in 2010.
Sun Cha Warhola, 53, was present in a Farmington courtroom Monday alongside her attorney and a translator when a judge ruled her case will move forward.
The decision was made by Judge Michael Edwards after both the prosecution and the defense asked to restore Warhola’s competency and move the case forward.
The decision was based upon evaluations by two experts — one from the Utah State Hospital and the other from an independent psychologist who analyzed Warhola through her attorney — who deemed she was able to stand trial.
Warhola was charged on Sept. 9, 2010 with two counts of aggravated murder, a day after her two children, 8-year-old James and 7-year-old Jean Warhola, were found strangled to death in their Layton home.
Charging documents indicate that Warhola’s then-husband, Kenneth Warhola, arrived at their Layton home around 5:45 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2010, and found his wife had allegedly barricaded herself in their son’s bedroom using a bed. She allegedly told him to “give her 10 minutes” before coming into the room.
He later pushed the door open and found the two children lying on the bed. His son’s face was cold to the touch, according to charging documents.
Police later arrived and found the two children dead, and discovered defensive marks on the children’s arms and legs. They also found marks on their necks consistent with strangulation. Police also found injuries on Warhola’s arms and legs that were consistent with a struggle.
Two months after her arrest, Warhola’s attorneys petitioned for a competency review and argued she likely suffered from “severe mental illness.” In June 2011, she was ordered to the Utah State Hospital after being found not competent for trial, and has remained at the hospital since.
Throughout the years, Warhola continued to suffer from mental illness despite the state’s efforts for rehabilitation.
Warhola’s attorney, Edward Brass, said it will be necessary for the defense to obtain a second attorney for the case. Because Warhola is charged with aggravated murder, which carries a possible death sentence, and has been deemed to be indigent, state law requires she be represented by two qualified attorneys. Brass has served as Warhola’s attorney since he was appointed to her case shortly after her arrest.
Deputy Davis County Attorney Brandon Poll asked Edwards for Warhola to be transferred from the Utah State Hospital to the Davis County Jail, where she would be held without bail. Brass said he would not object to the request, and Edwards approved the move.
Brass also asked that Warhola continue to receive the same medication she has been prescribed by the state hospital after she is moved to the Davis County Jail, a request that was approved by Edwards.
As of Monday afternoon, Warhola was in the custody of the Davis County Jail, and had been in their custody since Friday, May 3.
Warhola’s next court appearance is scheduled to take place on June 10 at Farmington’s 2nd District Court.