BEAVERTON — A Sherwood woman who last year killed her 11 year-old daughter — a student at a Christian school in Newberg — will spend the rest of her life in the custody of state mental care.
As reported by The Oregonian, Washington County Circuit Judge Suzanne Upton last month found Kristina Buckley, 39, guilty except for insanity in the June 2, 2011 strangling of Buckley’s daughter, Cecilia, in their Sherwood home.
Buckley waived her right to a jury trial, and Upton then issued her ruling at an Aug. 1, hearing in Washington County Circuit Court. Buckley admitted to killing her daughter and also acknowledged the validity of psychological evaluations conducted by state and private doctors, who concluded that she was suffering her first psychotic break at the time of the killing.
Cecilia’s death deeply grieved her fellow students and staff at Veritas School in Newberg, where she attended third through fifth grades. She was on the school’s honor roll and had been the recipient in 2010 of the “Veritas Award,” an honor determined by the staff and given to one girl and one boy in each class who exhibit Christlike character. Cecilia also belonged to a Girl Scout troop and was a student at Sherwood Dance Academy, where she was remembered as a sweet and bright student who was shy, but confident. Cecilia’s funeral was held at her church, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Beaverton.
According to the newspaper, Buckley told doctors she wasn’t driven to kill her daughter by anger or depression, but out of fear that the girl needed to be protected from pedophiles. She also said that she did become panicked and hysterical at the time she strangled Cecilia.
Court documents outlined Buckley’s mental breakdown, starting with the days before the killing when her husband Patrick, who has since divorced her, sought help for her.
The court records stated that Buckley became increasingly paranoid at the end of May 2011. She imagined that people were conspiring to kill her and molest her daughter. Her husband took her to a psychiatrist, who prescribed anti-psychotic medication. But Buckley feared that the doctor was part of the conspiracy and that the pharmacy would poison her. Her husband saw that the medication wasn’t working and contacted the doctor several times.
On June 2, 2011, Buckley became worried that something might happen to Cecilia at school. She and her husband drove to Newberg and pulled her out of class before 11:30 a.m. They then went out for lunch and stopped by the doctor’s office to pick up a stronger medication for Buckley.
At mid-afternoon, Patrick Buckley went to the gym while his wife and daughter went home. A half-hour later he phoned and spoke to Cecilia, who sounded happy, he told police.
As the girl and her mother sat cuddled together on a love seat to watch a movie, Buckley thought of how she would kill herself that night, but worried what might happen to Cecilia after her suicide. Buckley immediately decided that she needed to kill the girl as well to protect Cecilia from being sex-trafficked or placed with a “pedophile family.” She choked Cecilia, the two slid onto the floor and it was all over quickly, Buckley stated in the court documents.
Stricken by panic, Buckley then grabbed two knives from the kitchen and locked herself in the bathroom. When her husband returned home, he found the front door locked and Cecilia unconscious. He dialed 9-1-1. Emergency personnel tried to resuscitate the girl, then rushed her to Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center in Tualatin, where she was pronounced dead.
In the bathroom, Buckley swallowed eight of the pills that had been prescribed. She tried to cut herself on her wrists and neck, but then felt tired. Police broke down the bathroom door, and an ambulance took Buckley to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland; she made her confession during the ambulance ride. Buckley spent two weeks in the hospital. Upon her release from the hospital in mid-June, Buckley was taken to jail without bail.
Doctors concluded that while Buckley understood that her actions were illegal, she was unable to control her behavior at the time of the killing. Upton’s ruling sends Buckley to the state hospital, to remain under the supervision of the Psychiatric Security Review Board for life.
According to the newspaper, Buckley was unemotional at last month’s hearing and responded to the judge’s questions in a soft, clear voice.