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Mikesell file 2

Brittney Mikesell makes an appearance in April in McLean County Circuit Court. 

BLOOMINGTON — A woman facing murder charges claims her mental illness and distress over her boyfriend's life-threatening stab wounds kept her from understanding her constitutional rights during two interviews with police.

Brittney Mikesell, 23, is charged under the state's felony murder law that holds a person accountable for the death of another if the death occurs during the commission of a forcible felony. 

Mikesell's boyfriend Cullen Hedrick was stabbed by Rodney Daugherty during a December 2, 2017, incident at a Bloomington mobile home park on the city's south side. Daugherty, who was not charged, claimed he stabbed Hedrick in self-defense after Hedrick attacked him with a machete.

Mikesell's defense lawyer Jennifer Patton argued Thursday that police spoke with Mikesell for about 40 minutes in a Bloomington police interview room before officers informed her of her right to remain silent and have a lawyer present.

At the time of the interview, Mikesell was eager to return to the hospital where she believed her boyfriend was receiving treatment for his injuries. She did not learn of his death until a bond hearing two days later.

"She was basically on a roller coaster all the time," Patton told Judge Casey Costigan. 

Two hours after officers read Mikesell her constitutional rights, she became upset and attempted to kill herself by wrapping her sweater around her neck and putting a plastic bag from a wastebasket over her head. 

Patton argued that the suicide efforts were Mikesell's means to get officers to take her back to the hospital. At one point when she was in the interview room, Mikesell began yelling that she was mentally ill and needed to get out of the room, said Patton.

Assistant State's Attorney Ashley Scarborough argued the suspect acknowledged that she understood her constitutional rights.

Mikesell admitted she minimized what took place at the trailer park in order to keep police from knowing about her drug use because that information could interfere with her efforts to regain custody of her child, said the prosecutor.

In a hearing last week, Mikesell denied being under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident but admitted to recent use of "spice," a drug found in her bra by medical personnel.

Mikesell testified that she takes medication for several mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The statements of the Dec. 2, 2017, interview and a second interview conducted two days later at Mikesell's insistence should be allowed as evidence, said Scarborough.

Costigan said he will issue a ruling on the defense motion next week. Lawyers agreed on a tentative trial date in February. Mikesell is due back in court Dec. 19. 

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Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny

McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.