A Racine woman who allegedly left her handicapped son to die will stay in a mental health institute for a little longer

ROOT — The woman charged with a felony over allegations that she left her disabled adult son to die on the floor after a fall will remain at the Mendota Institute of Mental Health for the time being.

Cheryl Christensen, 63, has been charged with negligently subjecting an at-risk person to abuse/causing death after her son was found dead on a bathroom floor on October 28, 2020.

The 46-year-old suffered brain and physical damage after being hit by a car when he was 14. Christensen was her caregiver.

Proceedings in the case were stayed on October 3, 2020 following a hearing in which Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz determined that the accused was incompetent to stand trial.

It was the second time during the proceedings that the accused was found unfit to stand trial.

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A review hearing was held Monday in Racine County Circuit Court.

The defendant was supposed to participate in the hearing on Zoom, but an MMHI representative informed the court that Christensen had refused to attend the hearing, which was held without her.

Gasiorkiewicz read the report released by MMHI, which indicated that the defendant continued to have delusions, disordered thoughts and believed she was being persecuted by others, including law enforcement officers.

The judge determined that Christensen lacked the capacity to understand the proceedings or participate in her own defense, which made her unfit to stand trial.

Being found unfit to stand trial is different from being found not guilty by reason of mental infirmity, where the accused’s mental state at the time of the offense is closely examined, as is their ability to distinguish right from evil.

Reports from Mendota doctors indicate that Christensen will become proficient again with treatment.

Case history

Racine Police Department officers responded to the 2600 block of West Crescent Street for a wellness check on the accused’s 46-year-old son after relatives became concerned for his well-being and called the authorities.

When police arrived at Christensen’s residence, they found that she was attempting to barricade the door.

After entering the residence, they found Christensen’s son dead on the bathroom floor, covered with a blanket.

The accused allegedly told the police that her son had fallen out of bed several days earlier. He was screaming in pain and she thought he had broken bones.

She couldn’t get him back in his wheelchair, so she dragged him to the bathroom and gave him pain relief pills.

Christensen told police she provided the victim with water and juice for about four days before claiming he began refusing food.

Christensen reportedly told investigators she didn’t call for help because she didn’t want her son to die in the hospital; she wanted him to die peacefully at home.

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