W. Jordan mom will be sentenced in May for killing daughter
Courts • Woman has been getting mental health treatment at Utah State Hospital.
Published: March 26, 2014 07:23AM
Updated: March 25, 2014 08:31PM
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Mary Ethyl Hansen

West Jordan • The woman who showed up bloodied and dazed at her door more than a two years ago claiming she had just shot her daughter is not the same woman Juila Hoodman considered a “sister.”

The mental illness Mary Ethel Hansen had been struggling with for years had finally taken hold, prompting her to shoot her daughter twice in the head and then turn the gun on herself in an alleged death pact.

She had become dangerous.

And Hoodman, who sat in court Tuesday awaiting the chance to testify at the sentencing of her former best friend, said she believes Hansen remains so.

“She’s never not going to be a danger to herself,” Hoodman said. “I believe that with my whole heart.”

But after more than a year of treatment at the Utah State Hospital, prosecutors said, Hansen hadn’t been properly evaluated by mental health experts, and more documentation was needed before the court could move forward with sentencing her for killing her 18-year-old daughter, Virginia Ray Hansen, on March 22, 2012.

“We always worried she would do something to hurt herself,” Hoodman said. “She’d talked about it and made threats before. But we never for an instant thought she’d do something to hurt Virginia. She was her whole world.”

Hansen, 54, will be sentenced on May 14.

She entered into a plea deal with prosecutors in January of last year after she was declared fit to stand trial on charges of first-degree felony murder.

Hansen pleaded guilty but mentally ill to lesser charges of manslaughter and felony discharge of a firearm, second-degree felonies each punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

According to charging documents, Hansen and her daughter had entered into a death pact.

But when the mother failed to kill herself after shooting her daughter twice, she drove up the street to Hoodman’s home and told her to call 911.

Paramedics found the deceased girl inside the home she shared with her mother.

“I don’t know if I believe it was a death pact anymore,” Hoodman said. “I just can’t imagine Virginia would have gone along with that. I can’t imagine Mary would have gone up to her and said, ‘Come along, honey, it’s time.’ ”

Hansen has remained in custody since the incident, but was removed from the Salt Lake County Jail when she again attempted suicide in November 2012.

Hoodman said since Hansen was moved to the hospital she has shunned several of her old friends and neighbors, but receives visits from a cousin who lives nearby.

She came to court Tuesday wearing the turquoise tank top she had on the day she learned Hansen had killed the girl who had been so close to her own daughter.

“I remember everything about that day,” Hoodman said. “I’m not as mad now as when it first happened. I miss our friendship. I miss the person I cared about. But it’s so hard to get past what happened.”

mlang@sltrib.com

Twitter: marissa_jae