Woman Suspected of Murdering Great-Aunt Enters Plea

Tiffany Burney, 23, arrested and charged with first degree murder

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A 23-year-old woman accused of murdering her 74-year-old great-aunt entered a plea of not guilty at her arraignment on Wednesday.

Tiffany Burney faces one count of first degree murder for the death of her great-aunt Daisy Mae Hayes, a Tierrasanta resident. Hayes was found with a single gunshot wound to the head at her home on Gabacho Drive at about 6:20 p.m. last Wednesday, according to San Diego police. 

Burney was arrested on Parkside Drive in La Mesa on Saturday morning and was later booked into the Las Colinas Women's Detention Facility.

Burney's bail was set at $2 million dollars and, if convicted, she faces 50 years to life in prison.

The prosecutor in the case, Roy Lai, said Burney was unstable and a danger to the community.

Lai has yet to release a possible motive in the case.

Court records reveal Burney has had a troubling mental health history in the past two years.

In August, she filed a civil lawsuit against the county mental health agency, according to the documents. In her complaint, she claimed she was mistreated in the San Diego County Mental Hospital while being cared for between April and May of 2010.

"I was treated unfairly, forced to take medications...I was assaulted, withdrawn from reality," she claimed in the complaint.

She states that she has a great paranoia of people, and that "nothing can help."

In April and December of 2010, court investigators petitioned for temporary conservators, or caretakers, for Burney. The investigators claimed she was continuously "paranoid, internally preoccupied and did not believe she had a mental illness," the court record dated April 30, 2010 read. Without a conservator, the investigator said, Burney would not be able to take care of herself.

In the August 16, 2010 complaint she claimed she was placed on temporary conservatorship for crying.

In September of 2011, a county judge terminated Burney's temporary conservatorship, saying that Burney was no longer considered gravely disabled.

On Sunday afternoon, family, friends and neighbors of Hayes gathered at her home. Many were shocked to learn that she was murdered on Wednesday.

Neighbors said they went to console Hayes’ 78-year-old husband, Elmer Hayes, who also lived in the home. He was said to be doing as well as possible considering the circumstances.

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