Castaic woman charged with murder pleads not guilty by reason of insanity

In this 2014 photo, a Santa Clarita Sheriff's Deputy cruiser sits in front of a house in Castaic where a dead body was found on Sept. 5, 2014. photo by Dan Watson , The Signal

A Castaic woman charged with murder Wednesday in the stabbing death of her elderly father two years ago pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Denise Ann Gillis, 48, appeared Wednesday in San Fernando Superior Court where she was to be formally charged with murder in the stabbing death of her 87-year-old father, James Edison Gillis.

The Castaic woman who, according to evidence presented at her preliminary hearing, told detectives on Sept. 5, 2014, the day she was arrested, that she suffered from schizophrenia.

Subsequent to her arrest, Gillis later underwent a court-ordered evaluation to determine her mental competency.

In March, following back-to-back psychiatric assessments, Gillis was found competent to stand trial on a charge of murder.

Gillis was told to return to court for a pre-trial hearing on Nov. 29, in advance of her trial, said Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Evidence presented at her preliminary hearing earlier this month revealed her father had been stabbed 22 times and suffered at least 16 lacerations to the head.

If convicted as charged, she faces a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison.

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