A woman who gouged her mother’s eyes out and placed them on a cardboard box in a drug-induced killing has pleaded guilty, according to court records.
A Florida judge Monday sentenced Camille Balla to 15 years in prison followed by 15 years probation after she pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a weapon in the death of 55-year-old Francisca Montiero-Balla.
She was initially charged with first-degree murder and slated to go to trial on Dec. 1. Balla, 38, was credited for more than 5 years of jail time, which means she’ll be released from prison in less than 10 years.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home around 1:40 a.m. on March 16, 2018, after Balla told a co-worker she may have murdered her mother. When deputies arrived, Balla appeared frantic as she sat on the sidewalk covered in blood with cuts on her hands and knees, a probable cause arrest affidavit reviewed by Law&Crime says. She told deputies, “I killed my mother, and I need help.” She said her mom was in the garage and handed them keys, which were also covered in blood.
Deputies found Montiero-Balla dead in the garage. She had multiple deep and traumatic large lacerations throughout her body, including her head, arms, chest, stomach and groin, the affidavit said.
“It appeared that Montiero-Balla’s eyes had been removed from her head and placed on a nearby box,” deputies wrote.
Inside the home, there was a large blood trail that led from the living room through the kitchen and into the garage. The garage had pools of blood and blood splatter throughout, along with broken glass near the victim, consistent with the cuts on Balla’s hands and her kneeling over Montiero-Balla. There were also handwritten “religious-themed” notes, according to the affidavit. There was also a joint containing suspected marijuana.
Outside, paramedics treated Balla, who said she smoked marijuana with what she suspected was laced with PCP or Flakka, which is also known as bath salts. She then allegedly started screaming, “I’m a murderer! I’m a murderer!” Her demeanor changed from calm to screaming and yelling, deputies noted. She was taken to the hospital for further treatment before being taken to the Palm Beach County Jail.
In April, her attorneys filed notice that they were seeking an insanity defense, saying she had schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder. Among the evidence they planned to present were medical records from hospitals and prior involuntary commitments, the filing says.
Marc Freeman, a spokesman for the 15th Judicial State Attorney’s Office, said the guilty plea came after negotiations between prosecutors and defense attorneys. The victim’s family “is in full agreement” with the deal, he said.
The Palm Beach County Public Defender’s Office, which represented Balla, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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