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Oviedo mom charged with murdering daughter set for competency hearing

SANFORD – Sujatha Guduru, the Oviedo mother who confessed to shooting her 17-year-old daughter then trying to kill herself, has been returned from a state mental hospital, and a judge on Thursday will decide whether she’s mentally competent to stand trial.

An attorney for Guduru, 45, says she is innocent because she was insane when she killed her daughter, Jan. 27, in their Oviedo home.

Guduru spent three months at a mental facility in South Florida and according to the staff there, has improved so much, she is now mentally competent, according to defense attorney Brian Bieber.

“The hospital has opined that she has responded well to its treatment, which of course includes medication,” Bieber said today.

The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday in front of Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr., who on June 6, ruled that she was not mentally competent and ordered her to the hospital.

Before that hearing, Bieber described her as psychotic, as having hallucinations and being unable to understand what was going on in her legal case.

He and Assistant State Attorney Jim Carter said Thursday’s hearing would likely be short, that there’d be no witness testimony and that the judge would likely make his decision, based on reports from the state hospital.

“I suspect that she’ll be found competent,” Carter said today.

Guduru is charged with first-degree murder.

In an email to her brother the morning of the shooting, she spelled out that she intended to kill herself and her daughter. She then shot her 17-year-old child, Chetana, twice in the face, waited about 30 minutes then shot herself in the chest.

Chetana was an honors student at Seminole High School and one of the 40 brightest high school students in Florida, based on a U.S. Department of Education ranking.

The defendant has a long history of mental illness. Before the shooting, she had been hospitalized in mental wards three times, Bieber said.

He has not said what mental illness prompted those hospitalizations, but the medication that she told police she took includes drugs commonly used to treat depression and bipolar disorder.

Bieber said his mental health experts have not yet evaluated her because she has been mentally incompetent.

rstutzman@tribune.com or 407-650-6394

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