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A state appeal court on Thursday rejected an appeal by a Marin County woman who insisted she killed her mother as an act of mercy. San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal held that conflicting testimony about Temple Stuart’s reasons for ending Isabel Stuart’s life in 2004 justified Marin County Superior Court Judge Verna Adams’ decision to reject probation. Adams sentenced Temple Stuart to six years in prison in November 2006, but later reduced the sentence to three years. Stuart had argued that her mother was in poor health and had begged her daughter to help end her life. Stuart, who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, said that after her mother took an overdose of pills, she put a pillow over her mother’s face to ensure she died. However, other family members, including two of Stuart’s brothers, claimed Stuart’s act was premeditated and that she went through with it for an inheritance. The appeal court said their claims had some credence. “A reasonable person,” Justice James Lambden wrote, “could conclude from the record that defendant, whether or not she believed Isabel wanted to die, smothered her mother to death as Isabel slept on the evening of Jan. 11, 2004, without Isabel’s knowledge or consent, doing so after a day of thinking about it and at least in part for her own financial gain.” Justices Paul Haerle and James Richman concurred. The ruling is People v. Stuart, 07 C.D.O.S. 12346.

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