A woman who allegedly killed her mother in Merced County to please Satan has been determined competent to stand trial.
Melissa Anne Bal, 37, of San Diego, did not speak as she appeared Thursday in Merced County Superior Court wearing yellow jail clothing. She underwent cognitive testing and a doctor found she was competent to stand trial, according to Judge Jeanne E. Schechter.
She pleaded not guilty on Thursday through her public defender, Deputy Public Defender Stephanie Jamieson.
Bal is accused of killing her mother, 55-year-old Lydia Marie Bal, in an alleged "Satanic sacrifice" on Oct. 11 inside a fifth-wheel trailer in the 21000 block of Highway 33 in Dos Palos. When deputies arrived, Bal was found covered in blood.
Investigators' reports, obtained by the Merced Sun-Star, describe a grisly series of events that ended with Melissa Bal stabbing her sleeping mother at least 20 times with an 8-inch kitchen knife.
Family members and others claim Melissa Bal has talked about Satanic messages, and that she has a history of mental illness and drug abuse, according to the reports. She remains in custody at the John Latorraca Correctional Center.
Bal told a California Highway Patrol dispatcher that she killed her mother by cutting her throat and stabbing her and said “she did not have control of herself,” according to reports. She also told investigators she “sacrificed her mother” and the slaying was part of a “Satanic practice,” but she refused to elaborate, investigators said.
Bal is scheduled to appear again on March 1.