Mother who attacked family pleads insanity

She is a 50-year-old mother of two. She has been married for 26 years. She had no prior criminal record. And on the night of June 20, she seemed, as she prepared dinner for her family, “normal.”

But that life would drastically unravel in less than a day.

At 2 p.m. June 21, cops said they found Philomena Mary Brown, of Redwood City, lying face-down in the sand on a San Mateo County beach, conscious but unresponsive, with several pill bottles in her purse.

Back at home, her family was in worse condition, cops said. After an “ordinary” supper with the family the night before, Brown allegedly drugged her son and husband. At 4 a.m. the next morning, she then brutally beat her daughter with a 10-pound dumbbell, prosecutor said.

Prosecutors said a crazed Brown went into the room of her 23-year-old daughter and attacked her as she was sleeping, striking her with the dumbbell in the head and causing a skull fracture.

Her son heard the screams, went out into the hallway and was also attacked by his mother, who threw punches, authorities said.

He had other problems. The night before, when Brown seemed perfectly normal while cooking dinner for the family, she had allegedly drugged him, prosecutors said. After being attacked, the son began feeling sick and was throwing up, they said.

The son learned that his father had also been drugged, cops said. After being attacked, he ran into his father’s room, only to learn that his father could not stand up, police said.

The attacks were unprovoked, the county’s District Attorney said.

All three were rushed to the hospital. The daughter underwent surgery and is expected to recover, authorities said.

Brown, who allegedly fled to the coast after the attacks, pleaded not guilty to charges by reason of insanity. Not all was perfectly normal prior to the attacks, authorities said.

She had “shown increasing paranoia in prior weeks,” though nothing seemed out of ordinary the night before the attacks, prosecutors said.

She appears to suffer from serious psychiatric problems, they said.

Brown, who remains in custody on no bail status, was due back in court Wednesday. A report from doctors’ on her sanity was set to be presented, along with possible future dates for a jury trial, prosecutors said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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