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Murder Charge Filed in Ramming Death

A Ukiah woman is accused of slamming her wheelchair-bound mother, 89, into a tree with her van.

May 23, 2003|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A Ukiah woman was charged with first-degree murder Thursday for allegedly placing her wheelchair-bound mother in front of her van and ramming the 89-year-old woman into a tree about 25 feet away.

A Mendocino County judge ordered Carlene Hagood, 60, held on $500,000 bail after she agreed to postpone her arraignment until May 28 so her public defender has more time to review the case.

Witnesses said Hagood told them she accidentally shifted the van into drive instead of reverse.

But Ukiah police Capt. Dan Walker said her actions suggest an incident "far beyond any sort of accident.... It was intentional."

Hagood's mother, Naomi Hagood, died at the scene Tuesday morning in the town about 110 miles northwest of San Francisco.

According to police and prosecutors, the events occurred outside the offices of the mother's doctor, who was out of town. Naomi Hagood reportedly suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

After parking the van, prosecutors allege, Hagood wheeled her mother's chair onto a sidewalk, climbed back into the vehicle and accelerated with enough force to jump the curb. She allegedly continued driving across a lawn until she pinned her mother against a tree.

"There is evidence indicating there was at least some sustained acceleration when she hit the tree," Walker said. "The tires spun for a little bit."

Deputy Dist. Atty. Keith Faulder said there was no sign of skid marks that might suggest Hagood had tried to brake, once her van shot forward.

"The conduct was so clear, it was so public, we were left with no choice but to charge her with murder," Faulder said. "But why she did it will be, I suppose, the subject of much debate in the future, and I don't have an answer to that right now."

Hagood entered the courtroom Thursday with a cheerful "hello" to the audience. When the judge asked if she had a job, she replied, "No, my mother died, and I was working 24 hours a day to take care of her."

Faulder confirmed that Carlene Hagood was arrested in 1997 on suspicion of cruelty to her mother. The charges were dismissed, but Hagood was required to attend a support group for sufferers of Alzheimer's disease.

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