Son charged in stabbing death of mother

(Gary Fountain)

December 9, 2010 4:57:07 PM PST
A young man is charged with murdering his own mother inside their River Oaks area home. On Thursday questions turned to how it happened and what John Shank's defense will be. John Shank, 20, had his booking photo taken Wednesday night after he was charged with the murder of his 51-year-old mother, Nancy Shank. According to court personnel, he is being kept in jail under a mental health hold.

Her son attended Kinkaid and the University of Texas before dropping out. This year he was hospitalized for mental health problems twice. His mother asked her bible study group, friends say, to pray for him.

But Wednesday afternoon, Nancy Shank was stabbed or cut police say in the neck after an argument with her son. John Shank was later arrested along the Katy Freeway.

Shank is now being processed into the Harris County Jail. He will be placed on suicide watch, says a sheriff's spokesman, and will be given a medical assessment. The defense argument could be insanity says our legal analyst.

"The first step is whether he's competent, and if he's competent to stand trial, it's clear at this juncture that the defense will be insanity," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

The insanity defense though is a difficult one and no one knows that better than attorney George Parnham. He represented Andrea Yates, but he has not been approached to represent John Shank.

"It is an uphill battle. But I think what is important is for the attorney to be able to understand that the jury must view this action through the eyes of the actor," said Parnham.

During the probable cause hearing, it was stated that Nancy Shank suffered multiple stab wounds.

Her husband, Dan Shank, is the director of the Coats Rose law firm. On Thursday, the agency released this statement saying, in part, "Nancy Shank was a devoted mother and cherished wife, and she was a beloved member of the greater Coats Rose family, and her loss is mourned by all of us."

Shank's bond is set at $500,000.


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