Woman charged in her mother’s death unfit to stand trial

GREAT FALLS (AP) — A 44-year-old woman charged in her mother’s beating death in Great Falls has been found unfit to stand trial due to mental illness.

State psychiatrist Dr. Virginia Hill testified that doctors at the Montana State Hospital tried three medications on Pamela Jean Courtnage and none improved her mental state enough that she could help with her defense.

District Judge Elizabeth Beth declared Courtnage unfit to stand trial Tuesday.

Courtnage, who suffers from a mental disorder that causes delusions, was charged with deliberate homicide in the May 2017 death of 69-year-old Katherine Courtnage of Big Sandy.

The Great Falls Tribune reports Courtnage will remain at the state hospital in Warm Springs and an independent evaluator will interview her to create a report for a civil commitment. Courtnage will have a right to a trial on that issue.