Layton woman accused of strangling kids faces competency review

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FARMINGTON — The attorney for a Layton woman accused of killing her two children asked Monday for a review of her competency to face charges.

Sun Cha Warhola, 44, appeared dazed and uninterested in the proceedings Monday in 2nd District Court as her attorney, Ed Brass, told Judge David Connors he intends to file a petition to ask for a competency review. She looked around the courtroom but did not smile or wave to a group of Korean women in attendance, as she has during previous hearings.

Police believe Warhola strangled her son James, 8, and daughter Jean Marie, 7, on Sept. 8 in a bedroom at their home. She is charged with two counts of aggravated murder, but prosecutors have not said whether they will seek the death penalty.

Prosecutor Bill McGuire said the competency review should take about 60 days. Warhola's next court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 19.

The Davis County Attorney's Office gave Brass police reports and videos of witness interviews Monday. He said Warhola is "somewhat disoriented" and "not doing very well" in the Davis County Jail. The Utah State Hospital may be a better place for her to be held, Brass said. Her husband, Kenneth Warhola, answered the door at the couple's home Monday but declined to answer questions or say if he had visited his wife in jail. Reports released by Layton police shed light on what appears to have been a deteriorating relationship between the couple in the weeks leading up to the children's deaths.

  • On Aug. 14, their son saw the couple fighting over home title papers and ran to a neighbor's house to call 911, according to one report. The neighbor saw Sun Cha Warhola chasing her husband into a nearby park.
  • Eight days later, she went to police and accused Kenneth Warhola of sexually abusing the children. Police notified the state Division of Child and Family Services, and Sun Cha Warhola took the kids to stay in a hotel. When the children then missed school, Kenneth Warhola told police he was worried about them. Officers checked with his wife, who said she held them out for fear her husband would take them from the school. Prosecutors declined to file charges against Kenneth Warhola after the children reported no abuse in interviews.
  • On Aug. 26, police were called to the home again because Sun Cha Warhola wanted to see what her husband had in a duffel bag. It contained family videos that he said he wanted to prevent her from taking. She also accused her husband of having child pornography on his computer, but police found none. In an Aug. 31 phone interview, Kenneth Warhola told police his wife had mental problems.
  • The last documented spat took place Sept. 2 at the Delta terminal of Salt Lake City International Airport. Kenneth Warhola did not want his wife to take the children on a trip, but a police officer said he could not legally stop her.

Older police reports detail several domestic disputes in which Sun Cha Warhola accused her husband of affairs. On another occasion, they argued over arrangements for their son's birthday party.

On Sept. 8, Kenneth Warhola came home from work to find the children dead.



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Paul Koepp


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