Woman pleads not guilty in murder-suicide case

The Balboa Terrace mother who allegedly tried to kill herself and her two children by locking the family into a car with an open gas-powered barbecue pleaded not guilty Friday.

Linda Woo, a 40-year-old PG&E manager, pleaded not guilty to one murder charge and one attempted murder charge for the alleged murder-suicide attempt March 29.

Woo had been suffering from depression, according to her lawyer, Stuart Hanlon.

She was apparently distraught when she loaded her two children, 3-year-old Olive Murphy and

Olive’s 4-year-old brother, into a station wagon in the garage of their Balboa Terrace home.

Authorities say she intended to kill both children and herself by opening the gas valve of a portable barbecue that she also put in the car, but a family friend who came by to check on her intervened. It was too late for Olive.

On Friday a small crowd of Woo’s family and friends sat in the audience of the courtroom. Two people waved as she entered the court, dressed in a red jail suit. Woo said nothing during the proceeding, except “not guilty.”

“She is still incredibly depressed, and I think suicidal,” Hanlon said outside the courtroom where Woo was arraigned Friday.

Hanlon said he would seek a ruling of not guilty by reason of insanity.

“There’s no question that she did the act that led to her daughter’s death. It was a suicide attempt,” he said. “The thing that led her to attempt suicide and the death of her children is still existent for her, and it’s really very sad.”

Woo’s arraignment was delayed while she received medical treatment following the incident, Hanlon said. She spent the last two months in the jail ward at San Francisco General Hospital, where Hanlon said she was under suicide watch.

Woo and her husband had been “having some problems” when she allegedly committed her crime, Hanlon said. He did not specify the nature of the problems.

amartin@examiner.com

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