TACOMA, WA - Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Meshawn West, 44, with murder in the first degree for stabbing to death her mother, Joyce West, 59, in October 2012. This is the second time she has been charged with the same murder.
In 2014, West was found incompetent to stand trial and committed to Western State Hospital. Charges were dismissed without prejudice, leaving prosecutors the option to recharge.
This year, doctors were not recommending West's release, but a Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner ordered that West be released into the community anyway. The release has been halted for now with the re-filing of the murder charges. The prosecutor's office will ask that West's competency be reevaluated.
“If Ms. West is well enough to be released, this suggests she’s well enough to stand trial,” said Prosecutor Lindquist. "Our goal is to protect the community, either through accountability or through continued security and treatment at Western State."
Shortly before 9:00 a.m. on October 27, West attacked her mother with a steak knife, stabbing her multiple times. The victim’s husband was in the garage when he heard the victim yelling. He went upstairs and found his wife covered with blood and unresponsive.
Deputies arrived at the family’s South Hill home and found the victim lying on the bedroom floor. She had more than a dozen stab wounds to her chest, back, and head. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The defendant, West, was slumped against a wall and had blood on her clothing. She said she had accidentally cut herself in the thigh when she was stabbing her mother. She also told officers where to find the murder weapon.
At one point, West began speaking in an unintelligible language. She claimed she was “speaking in tongues.” West told detectives that she killed her mother because her mother “spiritually raped” her. She said her mother practiced witchcraft and would molest her without even being in the same room.
The defendant has a history of mental illness and had arrived at her parents’ home from Las Vegas just four days before the murder. The victim wanted her daughter home so she could get help. According to the victim’s husband, West had a mental health incident about a month prior to the murder.
“Mental health issues in our community need to be addressed before they result in violent crimes," said Lindquist.
West will now undergo a psychiatric evaluation and have a competency hearing January 4, 2018.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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