NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A woman with a history of mental illness who's accused of killing her two toddlers will have a judge decide her fate after being deemed competent Tuesday. Times-Picayune reports 28-year-old Chelsea Thornton faces two counts of first-degree murder related to the killings of her children on Oct. 17, 2012. She has entered a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office announced last month that it would not seek the death penalty for Thornton. That reopened the possibility of a bench trial, and defense attorney Lionel Lon Burns filed a motion last week asking that Criminal District Judge Robin Pittman decide the case rather than a jury.

Psychiatrist Dr. Richard Richoux testified that he and clinical psychologist Dr. Rafael Salcedo interviewed Thornton and concluded that Thornton, who continues to receive a "complicated" regimen of anti-depressant and anti-psychotic prescription medications in jail, understood the consequences of the motion to waive a jury trial.

Thornton has remained in jail or mental hospitals for more than 4½ years since her arrest for what she described as the mercy killings of her children Kelsey Adams, 4, and Kendall Adams, 3.

In an 18-minute recorded statement to New Orleans police that was played in court in October 2014, Thornton admitted shooting her son in the head and drowning his older sister in the bathtub after the gun jammed.

Thornton told police she loved her children but did not wish them to live their lives impoverished as she had.

Trial is scheduled for Aug. 7.


Information from: The Times-Picayune,