75ºF

Woman ruled competent for murder trial

39-year-old says her stepfather was molesting her 1-year-old daughter

Keleigh Brinson appears in court.
Keleigh Brinson appears in court.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – A Crescent City woman may be heading to trial after she admitted to killing her stepfather two years ago, according to investigators.

Keleigh Brinson, 39, was charged with second-degree murder in May 2012 after investigators said she shot her stepfather, Michael Atkinson, in the chest. She claims it was self-defense and that the shooting grew out of a confrontation over suspicion Atkinson was molesting her 1-year-old daughter.

Brinson told police the night she was arrested that she found tapes that prove the molestation. She also said Atkinson abused her for years.

She went before a judge Thursday for a competency review hearing. The judge ruled her competent for prosecution.

Brinson had been found not competent during two previous hearings.

Brinson's defense attorney said there is a lot of evidence she still needs to go through to build her case. Brinson claims that not only did her stepfather molest her daughter, but did so for years.

"The allegations are that she's been abused by the victim for years, since she was a child, and he videotaped some of that," defense attorney Lynn Martin said. "And we've seen some of that, and there's many more. And there's also allegations that the victim abused her 18-month-old child, which is very relevant to the case. We're looking.

"We believe he attempted to try and erase those, so we want and need to see. Because, in fact, some of the video we saw of her and the victim was in the middle of the tape that appeared to be blank. So we had to play the whole tape until we got until the middle to see the relevant part."

A tentative trial date has been set for December.