The adult daughter of a sex offender, whose father died of a heart attack after they fought, is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation at Western State Hospital.
Police arrested the 34-year-old woman for investigation of second-degree murder Wednesday, after her father, Billy Lee Aschenbrenner Sr., was found dead at their Tacoma home.
But on Thursday, prosecutors decided against charging her in his death. After her release from the Pierce County Jail, she was involuntarily committed to Western State for a 72-hour evaluation.
The woman, whom police refused to identify, told police she had hit her father in the face and head during an argument over housecleaning.
The Pierce County medical examiner’s office determined Aschenbrenner, 61, suffered a heart attack after she struck him. His death was classified as a homicide.
A key question is whether Aschenbrenner’s daughter was justified in striking him, said Gerry Horne, the county’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor. He plans further review of the case, and does not rule out eventually charging the daughter with a crime.
“It appears he died from a heart attack, preceded by blows to his face and head,” Horne said. “The question is: Did she act unreasonably in hitting him?”
During the argument, Horne said Aschenbrenner entered his daughter’s room and sat down on her bed. He was naked and at some point made what she perceived as a lewd gesture “and she just reacted,” Horne said.
The daughter dressed her father’s body before police arrived.
Police said Aschenbrenner and his daughter had also argued on Tuesday, the day before he died.
Aschenbrenner’s nephew, Frederick Branstetter, said his uncle had told him the argument was about the daughter’s mental state.
“She was just talking stupid stuff,” Branstetter said. “She needs to go to Western State and get help.”