Cobb woman who shot ill daughter seeks unique penalty — ( Atlanta Journal)

SSRI Ed note: Devoted mom given 4 drugs, including antidepressant, for itching, murders daughter, blames medication, seeks home confinement sentence.

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The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution

Monday, November 18, 1991


A 67-year-old woman accused of murdering her epileptic daughter wants to plead guilty today to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for a year’s confinement in her Smyrna home.

If a prosecutor and a Superior Court judge accept that proposal, it could be a first-of-its-kind sentence for a felony offense in Cobb County.

On Nov. 13, 1988, Barbara Lena Monroe shot her 32-year-old daughter, Gail Terrell, in the back while she stood in the bedroom of the Monroe home.

“The family – even her son-in-law – don’t want to see Mrs. Monroe go to jail,” defense attorney Jimmy Berry said. Under Mr. Berry’s proposed sentence, Mrs. Monroe would wear an electronic ankle bracelet during her year’s in-house confinement.

On Friday, Mr. Berry met with Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Smith and Cobb County Superior Court Judge Grant Brantley to discuss a plea. The details will be released in court today, Judge Brantley said.

Three years after the shooting, Mrs. Monroe’s motive is still in question. Was it mercy or murder? Or, were a battery of medications the prescription for this crime?

Mrs. Monroe initially told police she shot her sickly daughter to put her out of her misery. Mrs. Terrell suffered about 10 seizures a day. She also had trouble walking, because one leg was slightly shorter than the other.

But Mr. Berry said that’s inconsistent with the personality of Mrs. Monroe – a mother of four who doted on her daughter. He blamed her actions on four prescription drugs Mrs. Monroe was taking at the time.

“She was under the influence of these drugs to the point that she wasn’t thinking properly and acting in a rational manner,” Mr. Berry said.

Mrs. Monroe had been a caregiver most of her life.

She cared for her first husband until his death from cancer. After Gail’s marriage to Bennie Terrell in 1977, the couple moved a few houses from Mrs. Monroe, who continued caring for her disabled daughter, cooking, ironing and helping with her bills.

Drugs and depression

But the role may have begun to take its toll. In 1988, Mrs. Monroe began suffering constant itching from a skin irritation, Mr. Berry said.  Her doctor prescribed four types of drugs for the itching and for the depression resulting from it.  A month before the killing, Mrs. Monroe’s doctor doubled the dosage of one of her drugs, Mr. Berry said.

On Nov. 13, 1988, Mrs. Terrell came to pick up a lunch basket at her mother’s house on Camp Highland Road. Mrs. Monroe left Gail in another room and walked into the bedroom, where she pulled out a shotgun. She was loading it when Gail came in.

“She doesn’t remember what happened,” Mr. Berry said. “The only thing she remembers is putting the shell in the gun and trying to pull the breech up. In pulling it up, that’s when it fired.”

Last year, Mrs. Monroe offered to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for a 3-to 5-year prison sentence. But Judge Brantley rejected that plea. He said provocation must exist for a voluntary manslaughter plea and none existed here.

If the latest defense plea is rejected, a jury trial will begin in Cobb County today. Mrs. Monroe faces life in prison if convicted of murder.

Caption: photo: Barbara Lena Monroe She has proposed what could become a first-of-its-kind sentence for a Cobb felony.
Record Number: 913480044
Copyright 1991 The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution