Edmonton mother charged in daughter's death showed 'severe signs of instability' in weeks before killing

The Edmonton woman charged in the death of her daughter was on a downward spiral with mental illness in the weeks before the killing. Her lawyer spoke about her struggles after a brief court hearing today.

‘She has been very sick for a long time,’ lawyer Dino Bottos says of Christine Longridge

Christine Longridge (left) is seen with her son Michael and daughter Rachael in this undated photo. She is charged with second-degree murder in Rachael's death. (Facebook )

Christine Longridge, accused of killing her 21-year-old daughter Rachael just before Christmas, was gripped in a serious struggle with mental illness in the weeks before the tragedy, her lawyer said Tuesday.

"She has suffered for a very long time with bipolar disorder and in the final weeks before this incident she was showing severe signs of instability," Dino Bottos said outside the Edmonton courthouse.

'A mother killing her child is just very difficult for anyone to fathom'

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Speaking Tuesday, defence lawyer Dino Bottos said Christine Longridge suffered from bipolar disorder and was showing signs of instability when she allegedly killed her daughter. 1:13

Bottos said he has talked to several family members and friends of Longridge since taking her case.

"The family, they are very much in support of her because they understand that she has been very sick for a very long time," he said.

"I understand her to be, according to the family and friends, a very good person who has been a loving mother."

Longridge, 50, remains in custody at Alberta Hospital Edmonton after being charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 23 death of her daughter, a recent graduate from nursing school.

Rachael was killed in the family's Sherbrooke bungalow. An autopsy found she died of "multiple sharp forced injuries."

Tuesday's hearing was adjourned until next week while a Crown prosecutor gets assigned to the file.

Christine Longridge's brother was in court hoping to catch a glimpse of her, but didn't want to talk to reporters.

Rachael Longridge, 21, was just about to start a new job after graduating from the University of Alberta nursing program (Facebook)

Rachael Longridge had graduated at the top of her nursing class and was set to start a new position at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton.

"Something terrible occurred. I'm not at liberty to discuss that at this time," said Bottos, who confirmed he spoke to Christine Longridge before Tuesday's court hearing.

Bottos would not disclose details of the conversation or discuss his client's mood, but said he'd learned much about her state of mind through other family members.

The next step in the case is likely one to set a date for a preliminary inquiry and a possible psychiatric assessment from Alberta Hospital Edmonton.

Bottos told the judge he is ready to move forward on both fronts.

'Difficult for anyone to fathom'

Outside court after the hearing, he acknowledged the case is an especially distressing one.

"It's a terrible case. A parent, a mother killing her child is very difficult for anyone to fathom and it's indicative to me of something that was not part of her character but perhaps something she could not control herself."

Longridge is scheduled to be back in court Jan. 16.