Edmonton mother argues she's not criminally responsible for daughter's death

An Edmonton woman says she was so severely affected by mental illness that she did not understand her actions when she repeatedly stabbed her 21-year-old daughter in 2016, court heard on Wednesday.

'She did not know what she did that day, I'm sure in my heart of hearts'

Christine Longridge (left) is seen with her son, Michael, and daughter, Rachael, in this undated photo. Her defence lawyer will argue she is not criminally responsible for her daughter's death, due to mental illness. (Facebook )

Christine Longridge told her children in December 2016 that her son was a messiah, and that she and her daughter would have to die to save him.

The 51-year-old Edmonton woman eventually acted out part of that fantasy. Just before Christmas that year, Longridge repeatedly stabbed her daughter and then tried to kill herself.

Longridge pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to second-degree murder. Her defence lawyer said Longridge is not criminally responsible for her actions because she was so severely affected by mental illness that she did not understand her actions when she repeatedly stabbed her daughter, Rachael.

"She heard voices from God," defence lawyer Dino Bottos said outside court.

"In order to save her son ... who she thought was the messiah, she was compelled to kill Rachael and then herself."

Over the next three days, court will hear evidence from Longridge's friends, family and doctors. Her lawyer must prove she had a mental disorder at the time of her daughter's death and that the illness was so severe Longridge did not know her actions were wrong.

Struggled after her husband's death

Longridge was described as a loving mother to her two children, Rachael, 21, and Michael, 19, and encouraged them to participate in sports and other extra-curricular activities. 

Diagnosed with bi-polar, schizo-affective disorder in 1999, Longridge struggled in the following years, according to an agreed statement of facts.

Her husband of 26 years had always pressed her to take medications. After his death in 2015, Longridge stopped taking her medications regularly and life in the tidy north-side bungalow she shared with her children changed.

A month before Rachael was killed, Longridge was hospitalized.

Michael Longridge said his mother continued to behave in bizarre ways after her release from hospital.

"You could see it in her face," he said, according to the agreed statement of facts. "It was like she'd look right through you and just totally — a total blank stare."

Attack happened at home

The day before Longridge attacked her daughter, the siblings called their aunt for help. Their mother had been acting hysterically and, at one point, said her children were being tortured.

When Marilyn Hamilton arrived at the home, she found the trio sitting on a couch in the family room.

"Michael told me his mother told them ... that he was the saviour. And Christine and Rachael had to die for him," Hamilton told court.
Rachael Longridge, 21, was about to start a new job after graduating from the University of Alberta nursing program when she was killed in December 2016. (Facebook)

Hamilton decided to spend the night, and stayed in the same room with her sister. She said they got little sleep, and that Longridge spent some of the night talking about seeing light coming through the windows and special messages.

In the morning, the sisters went for a long walk. Hamilton said the situation was calm when they returned home. Longridge told her sister she was fine and urged her to go home.

But later that afternoon, Rachael Longridge and her mother got in the car to go to the hospital. On the way there, court was told, it appeared Longridge was feeling better.

Rachael Longridge called her brother and told him they would return home. 

When Michael Longridge walked into his family home that afternoon, he found a table flipped over and blood spattered on the walls. In the living room, his mother was on top of his sister, "chopping" at her neck, according to the agreed statement of facts.

Longridge tried to lock herself in the bathroom with a knife, but her son grabbed the weapon.

Rachael Longridge was dead by the time police arrived.

'Insurmountable' anguish

Longridge attempted suicide at the Edmonton Remand Centre shortly after her arrest. She has been at Alberta Hospital ever since.

Her sister still speaks to her by phone several times a day.

"She had deep love for Rachael. Deep love for Michael. They were her world," Hamilton told court.

"Her anguish is insurmountable. She did not know what she did that day, I'm sure in my heart of hearts,"

The trial will continue on Thursday.