A Texas mother with a history of mental illness was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the March 2016 smothering deaths of her 20-month-old and 5-year-old daughters.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sofya Tsygankova, 34, suffered from depression in her native Russia after experiencing a breakup and failing to excel in a music competition. She then experienced postpartum depression after she and famed pianist had their youngest daughter.
KTVT reports that world-famous pianist Vadym Kholodenko found his estranged wife “going crazy” and “covered with blood” before finding his daughters, Nika and Michaela Kholodenko, dead in their beds, inside Tsygankova’s Benbrook home off of the6600 block of Waterwood Trail. A coroner later stated that girls both die from suffocation.
Police said when they arrived, they found Tsygankova “rocking back and forth, and making noises” while wearing a bloodstained nightgown. The mother also had a puncture wound on her chest and a laceration on her wrist that police said were self-inflicted.
Months earlier, in July 2015, Vadym reportedly revealed that he was in love with a friend and wanted a divorce. The revelation caused the mother-of-two’s mental health to further deteriorate, which entailed her experiencing hallucinations and anxiety. She was eventually hospitalized after throwing herself from a moving car and lying down in traffic.
Tsygankova’s told doctors that she believed that her husband was controlling her through a cellphone and poisoning her. She claimed she was pushed to kill after the devil had taken her and her daughters’ souls, according to the newspaper.
KXAS reported that Tsygankova told police that she thought she had committed suicide and had put her daughters in the car, in hopes that their father got them. Instead, Michela and Nika had died from being suffocated by pillows.
Facing capital murder charges, the high-profile trial was halted in November 2016 after Tsygankova was deemed unfit to stand trial. The judge found her fit to stand trial the following summer after Tsygankova had received several months of treatment.
Prosecutors, who never sought the death penalty in this case, supported Monday’s verdict.
“Our system of justice does not allow the conviction of a person who is legally insane at the time of the offense. Under our law, a person who does not understand that their conduct is wrong because of their severe mental disease cannot be convicted,” Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in a statement Monday. “In this case, a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity is correct under the facts, and it is what justice demands.”
A judge ordered Tsygankova to a state mental health facility until she’s considered fit for release. The Star-Telegram reported that, even if released, she’ll remain under court supervision for life.
[Featured image: Sofya Tsygankova/Facebook]