BENBROOK, Texas - The estranged wife of an internationally known pianist will now stand trial for the murders of the couple’s two young daughters in Benbrook last year after she was found competent to stand trial.
It's been more than a year since Sofya Tsygankova appeared in court after being accused of murdering her two daughters by suffocating them with pillows. Her estranged husband is world-renowned Ukranian pianist Vadym Kholodenko.
The couple made Benbrook their home after Kholodenko won the Van Cliburn competition in 2013. Kholodenko, who had just filed for divorce, discovered 5-year-old Nika and 1-year-old Michaela dead and called 911.
After pleading not guilty, Tsygankova was sent to a state mental facility after being deemed incompetent to stand trial. But just two weeks ago, that changed after a Tarrant County judge ruled she 'was' competent and ordered her arrest.
Dr. Richard Schmitt, a clinical psychologist not connected to the case, says Tsygankova may be competent to stand trial in the murder of her children, but it doesn't mean she's sane.
"That means that they understand what they were charged with,” he said. “They understand the punishment they're facing. They understand the courtroom participants and their roles and that they can consult with their attorney about their case."
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Police found Tsygankova in the master bedroom rocking back and forth on the ground making indistinguishable noises. They found blood on her arms and a puncture wound in her chest from an apparent suicide attempt. She had visited a mental facility the day before the murders and was prescribed medicine for schizophrenia and depression.
In March, the head of the North Texas State Hospital told a Tarrant County judge that Tsygankova "is not yet competent but may be restored to competency within the foreseeable future.”
The judge approved a 60-day extension, adding she "is a danger to others and may not be safely treated on an outpatient basis." It was after the 60 days that she was arrested.
Schmitt says the burden is on prosecutors to try and prove she knew that what she was doing was wrong at the time.
"There is strong research evidence that points to the probability that most mothers who do that are psychotic, severely emotionally disturbed when that happens,” he said.
A trial date has not been set.