LAYTON — Prosecutors plan to decide by next month whether to seek the death penalty for a Utah woman charged in the strangulation deaths of her two children nine years ago.
Deputy Davis County attorney Brandon Poll said his office will make the decision before a Dec. 2 arraignment hearing for Sun Cha Warhola, 53.
Warhola, appearing in a striped gray jail uniform, showed little emotion as she waived her right to a preliminary hearing Friday in Layton’s 2nd District Court. She spoke through a Korean interpreter, nodding in response to questions from a judge and slowly scanning the courtroom gallery as she left the room after the brief hearing.
Her attorney, Ed Brass, declined comment.
After about eight years in the Utah State Hospital, she was deemed competent to stand trial in May based on new mental health evaluations. Her case had been paused during her time in the hospital.
Warhola, whose attorneys have previously argued she has severe mental illness, faces two counts of aggravated murder. Police say she strangled her two children, James, 8, and Jean, 7, in 2010.
The children’s father, Kenneth Warhola, found them dead after their mother used a bed to barricade herself inside her son’s room in their Layton home. Investigators reported finding injuries to her arms and legs that they say indicated the children tried to make their mother stop.
Poll said he and defense attorneys have not yet had any substantive discussions about a possible plea deal.
Kenneth Warhola “wants justice for his two children,” Poll said. “He wants us to remember that there were two lives that were lost, so we’re keeping him informed as discussions will move forward.”
The deadline for prosecutors to file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty is 60 days after arraignment, but Poll said he and his colleagues won’t take that long if they choose to do so.