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Mother accused of killing mentally disabled son appears in court

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Updated: 7/31/2013 9:20 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- The local woman accused of killing her mentally disabled son made her first court appearance Wednesday.

Joanne Hafer, 51, was assigned a public defender and as news 3's Marissa Mike tells us, her road to trial will likely be filled with mental evaluations

Hafer appeared before a judge handcuffed and sniffling.

She's accused of killing her 28-year-old mentally disabled son by giving him a deadly dose of prescription pills dissolved in fluids.

Then she tried to take her own life but didn't succeed.

“Obtain justice but resolve the case so there's some accountability, said former district attorney David Roger.

Roger says he suspects prosecutors will have compassion when handling this case.

“You have a mother who has taken care of this person for 28 years emotionally traumatized,” Roger said. “In her own way she has a great deal of love for her child. You have to take all those circumstances into consideration when you're forming a result.”

Police say they found a number of letters where Hafer mentions challenges caring for her son with special needs.

“From the prosecution's standpoint, this establishes she knew right from wrong. There was motivation,” Roger said.

Roger says those same letters may make it difficult for a defense attorney to argue insanity but could still be used for her defense.

“It certainly provides some insight into her psyche which will establish her defense,” he said.

Hafer's attorneys are likely calling on mental health experts to assess her competency to stand trial. She faces one count of murder. Roger suspects negotiations will likely happen in the future.

“We've in the past negotiated these cases to second degree murder and a couple occasions down to manslaughter. It depends on facts and circumstances,” Roger said.

Those details will likely come out in Hafer's next court hearing scheduled for August.
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