Do you think this woman should have been released? Do you think she is a danger to society?
Three years after Jennifer Lynn Bigham drowned her 3-year-old daughter in a bathtub at a Patterson home, a judge ordered jail officials to release her from custody because doctors say the woman no longer is insane.
The court already had ruled that Bigham, 26, was not guilty of murder and child abuse by reason of insanity in connection with the death of her daughter, Alexandrea Bigham. At a hearing Tuesday, the judge had to decide whether the defendant should be confined in a secure medical facility.
Two doctors testified that Bigham no longer exhibits the symptoms that led to the psychotic breakdown, causing the defendant to drown her daughter. Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff said the law clearly dictates that he has to order the defendant's release if she has fully recovered her sanity.
Deputy District Attorney Elaine Casillas argued that the court's standard was not stringent enough in determining Bigham's mental health status. She said the court did not ask the doctors to determine whether Bigham could be a danger to herself or others once she is released.
"She's a danger to society," Casillas said about Bigham after the hearing. "She's not been evaluated properly."
Had the doctors determined that Bigham still was suffering from mental illness, the judge could have ordered the defendant to a life-term stay at a medical facility.
The prosecutor was frustrated that the judge didn't order Bigham to seek some type of outpatient mental health treatment after her release.
Casillas told the judge the district attorney's office would file an appeal, but the prosecutor said that would not delay Bigham's release from the Stanislaus County Jail.