This article was a collaborative effort by Corridor News staff.
The capital murder trial for a Kyle woman, who is accused of killing and mutilating her 5-year-old daughter, began Tuesday morning.
Krystle Villanueva, 27, was indicted in 2017 by a grand jury on charges of capital murder of a person under ten and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Villanueva was arrested in January 2017 after allegedly assaulting her father-in-law Eustorgio Arellano-Uresti with a knife.
Villanueva’s daughter, Giovanna Larae Hernandez, was found deceased in a bedroom.
During her arraignment, Villanueva entered a plea to “stand mute,” which occurs when a defendant refuses to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty or respond to the judge during the trial.
District Court Judge Bill Henry, who is presiding over the capital murder case, entered a plea of not guilty for both charges on the court’s behalf.
Prosecutors painted a series of dark scenes of how Villanueva retrieved a knife from the kitchen and dismembered her daughter in a bedroom before attacking her father-in-law.
According to Hays County District Attorney Wes Mau, Villanueva called 911 after her father-in-law had fled and told the operator she had cut off her daughter’s head because she had asked for cereal.
“She did something crazy,” Mau said, “But that doesn’t mean she was legally insane.”
During his opening statements, Villanueva’s defense attorney, Carlos Garcia, suggested she may have Capgras Syndrome, which is a psychological disorder.
Capgras Syndrome is a disorder that causes a person to believe a loved one has been replaced with an imposter or duplicate.
Garcia said before the jury could understand the story, they had to understand the entire picture.
Garcia described a history of potential mental health symptoms and diagnoses, including substance abuse, psychosis, and bipolar disorder and reports of seeing “shadow people” and her family being “taken over.”
In a phone call to her husband on Jan. 5, 2017, two days after she was rushed to the hospital for the consumption of Clorox bleach, Villanueva told him she was going crazy.
Mau is not seeking the death penalty; if convicted, Villanueva could spend life in prison. The trial is expected to continue throughout the week on Villanueva’s case.