INDIO (CNS) – A 60-year-old woman suspected of killing her 85-year-old mother in La Quinta was ordered Friday to stand trial on a murder charge.
Sally Martha Webster of La Quinta is charged with one felony count each of murder and cruelty on an elder, according to court records. She additionally faces special circumstance allegations of inflicting torture and committing a heinous murder.
The charges stem from the death of her mother, 85-year-old Rosemary Webster, who was found on March 17, 2022, when deputies responded to a report of an unattended death in the 51200 block of Avenida Ramirez.
During a preliminary hearing at the Larson Justice Center in Indio Dec. 9, 2022, Deputy District Attorney Anne Marie Lofthouse presented photos from June 23, 2021, when Deputy Sean Verigan from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Thermal Station responded to a call about possible elder abuse.
Verigan testified that the mother told him she had recently started living with her daughter, and that “it was good at first and they seemed to get along but they began to argue after a while … at some point she worried that her daughter was going to kill her.”
The defendant testified during the hearing that her mother would often scream and wander off, so in separate occasions she put tape over her mouth and bound her wrists together. On one occasion the defendant said her mother’s eye and shoulders became bruised as she attempted stop her from driving, but all her efforts were attempts to protect her mother from herself.
Sally Webster testified that the day of her mother’s death, she woke up to find her mother dead on the floor and immediately called police.
As the preliminary hearing continued May 19, Lofthouse presented the judge with a video of Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Nick Jones interviewing the defendant on March 18, 2022, a day after her mom was found dead. In the recorded interview, the defendant described the last fight they had because her mom went out the front door and started causing a disturbance.
“I had enough and I guess I lost my temper and really beat the crap out of her. I thought she was clearly bedridden but somehow she was just up again, able to walk again,” Sally Webster said in the recorded interview. “I couldn’t keep her down so I finally ended up beating the (expletive) out of her and she was still moving. And then I went to my room and I just turned on some music, calming to help get me through the night, and she was still yelling and trying to argue and then snoring. Just like a beast, so loud, unbelievable. So I knew she was still alive.”
The defendant said when she woke up and found out her mother was dead, she cut the clothes off of her, threw them in the trash and after about an hour, called the police.
“I didn’t think it through. It wasn’t really that premeditated it just happened. Basically I was trying to save my own, preserve my own self from getting beat up and killed or hurt,” Sally Webster said in the interview.
At the end of the preliminary hearing Friday, Riverside County Court Judge Anthony Villalobos ruled that there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial for Webster on all charges and allegations.
A post-preliminary hearing arraignment was set for June 29.
Webster remains held without bail at Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
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