A Duluth woman accused of seriously assaulting her mother with a hammer this summer has been found incompetent to stand trial.
Amber Rae Stonemark, 35, has a history of mental illness, including a schizophrenia diagnosis, and was already under a civil commitment when she allegedly attacked 60-year-old Pamela Stonemark at her Esko residence Aug. 5. She was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation shortly after making her initial court appearance in August.
According to court records, a confidential report submitted by Duluth psychologist Megan Paris in late September concluded that Stonemark is "without sufficient capacity to appropriately participate in her own defense ... and therefore lacks the capacity to stand trial."
Paris also concluded that Stonemark "was laboring under a defect of reasoning at the time of the assault such that she could not appreciate the wrongfulness of her actions as a result of her mental illness," according to a filing this week.
That conclusion could eventually be used as expert testimony, should Stonemark stand trial at some point in the future. Defense attorney Nicole Hopps has filed notice that she would rely on a defense of not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency.
Based on Paris' findings, Judge Rebecca Stumme on Tuesday ordered the criminal proceedings to be suspended until Stonemark is deemed competent to participate in the case.
Stonemark was detained by police in Minneapolis on Aug. 6 and told them that she had harmed her mother the prior evening, according to a criminal complaint.
The Carlton County Sheriff's Office and Minnesota State Patrol were summoned to conduct a welfare check at the victim's residence on Stark Road that afternoon. Officers were unable to make contact with anyone, finding the shades drawn and a mattress propped up against the door, according to the complaint.
Officers breached the door and saw a "large amount of blood in the bedroom and bathroom" before finding the "seriously injured" woman. A hammer also was located in the vicinity, the complaint said.
The 60-year-old told police she had fallen, according to the charging document. But police were unable to take a formal statement due to the severity of her injuries, which have not been specified in court documents. Her condition required an airlift to a Duluth hospital.
Amber Stonemark is charged with first-degree assault resulting in great bodily harm and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. She is being held in the Carlton County Jail on $200,000 bail.
Stonemark has a history of assault charges. In 2011, she was arrested for allegedly attacking her boyfriend with a straight-edge razor at a Cloquet home. The 25-year-old victim suffered severe injuries to his face, neck, ear and lower right leg.
Stonemark, still wielding the razor when confronted by police, reportedly stated: "I'm Jesus Christ, I'm going to kill him and send him for eternity to the devil." Police had to use a Taser to subdue Stonemark, according to court documents.
An attorney stated at the time that Stonemark had been released from a treatment program just 10 days earlier and was off her medication. She was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation, and Carlton County prosecutors later decided to dismiss the case.
Stonemark was also one of four people charged in a 2007 assault and robbery of a 65-year-old acquaintance. According to documents in that case, Stonemark stopped at the Cloquet man's house with three men, who sprayed a chemical agent in the victim's face and beat him. They made off with a small amount of cash.
Stonemark pleaded guilty in that case to charges of first-degree burglary and interference with an emergency call.
Minnesota court records indicate there have been at least nine civil commitment cases opened for Stonemark since 2009 for mental illness and/or chemical dependency.
"She recognizes that she does better with the structure of a commitment, including taking medication and following her treatment plan," Judge Jill Eichenwald wrote in a November order. "Without the medication and treatment she is a danger to herself because she has suicidal ideation."
According to court records, Stonemark has previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia.