Amber Alert mom to be examined by 2 psychiatric experts

Booking photo shows Amber Pasztor. (Photo Provided/Elkhart Police Department)
Booking photo shows Amber Pasztor. (Photo Provided/Elkhart Police Department)

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — Amber Pasztor was back in court Wednesday and heard for the first time the state wants to put her behind bars for life without parole. The defense wants her to be examined to determine whether or not she is competent to stand trial.

“The state has now put the defense on notice and we are seeking a sentence of life without parole, which is kind of a separate proceeding from the initial trial phase,” Elkhart County Deputy Prosecutor Vicki Becker said.

Pasztor, charged with two counts of murder, is accused of killing her two children, 6-year-old Rene Pasztor and 7-year-old Liliana Hernandez. Becker said if the case goes to trial and a jury finds Pasztor guilty of killing her children there will be a second trial.

During that second part, new evidence will be presented and it will then be determined if she receives a life sentence. The state announced last week it was seeking the life sentence after considering the death penalty.

“After further consideration we determined the life without parole is the proper sanction that we wish to seek in this case,” Becker said. “It is appropriate.”

Pasztor’s defense attorney also filed a motion to have Pasztor evaluated to find out if she is competent to stand trial. Not to be confused with an insanity defense.

“Insanity has to do with an individual who is suffering from some type of mental disease or defect that makes them not necessarily appreciate the wrongfulness of their action and that applies whether you are guilty or not of the actual charge,” Becker said. “It’s merely procedural to determine: can we proceed at this point because the defendant does have enough ability to appreciate and understand the proceedings, their rights and assist their defense.”

The judge has ordered Pasztor be evaluated by two psychiatric experts, one from Elkhart County and the other from the Fort Wayne area. Becker said that competency evaluation can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete.