Middletown woman found not guilty by reason of insanity in death of sister

Psychological evaluation said she had battered woman syndrome.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A Middletown woman has been found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting death of her sister last fall.

Monica Pennington, 49, was charged with murder after the October killing of her 52-year-old sister at their Lafayette Avenue residence. She was declared incompetent for trial, but restored with treatment. Her attorney David Brewer then filed a not guilty by reason of insanity plea on her behalf.

An insanity plea means the defendant at the time of the offense did not know, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, the wrongfulness of their actions.

Last week, Pennington was in Butler Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth’s courtroom for a bench trial where evidence stipulated by the prosecution and defense was presented to support the insanity plea.

That evidence included a forensic psychological evaluation that concluded Pennington was suffering from battered woman syndrome and she has physical and mental disabilities.

Prosecutors and Brewer said Pennington and the victim, Pamela, were often involved in physical fights. When Pennington was arrested she had two black eyes that were visible at arraignment.

Spaeth found Pennington NGRI and ordered another valuation for recommendation of treatment and care in “the least restrictive setting.” A hearing has been set for the outcome next week.

Middletown dispatchers received a call about 8:40 a.m. Oct. 20, 2021 from Monica Pennington who said she had shot her sister in the living room.

“I shot her. She was beating me,” She told dispatchers. “She wouldn’t leave me alone.”

At Pennington’s arraignment, Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Dan Phillips said, the sisters were involved in a physical fight, which was not uncommon in their lives, when Monica walked into her sister’s bedroom, grabbed her pistol, walked back to sister and pointed it at her.

“Her sister said ‘You are not going to shoot me’ and she shot her,” Phillips said. “The defendant indicated after that it was going to be a murder suicide, but she did not go through with the suicide part.”

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