PICO RIVERA – The mental health of Monica Diaz became the focus of the successful appeal of her sentence for the murders of four members of her adoptive Pico Rivera family, officials said Friday. On Thursday, a court of appeals changed Diaz’s April 2004 sentence of life in prison without parole to a maximum punishment of 25 years to 100 years in prison. Diaz, who was 16 at the time of the murders, was accused of letting her boyfriend, Michael Naranjo, then 17, into her adoptive mother’s home on July 21, 2000, and assisting him while he used a knife to kill her adoptive father, Richard Flores, 42, and his children, Richard, 17, Sylvia, 13, and Matthew, 10. Reached by telephone Friday, Diaz’s adoptive mother, Sylvia Flores, who survived the attack, was distraught over the news. She said she believes Diaz’s original sentence was fair. She had no other comment. In her appeal, Diaz’s attorney claimed the judge in the case incorrectly excluded testimony from her psychologist, who had concluded that Diaz suffered from mental illness that clouded her judgement when it came to Naranjo. “She idolized \; she couldn’t see anything wrong with him,” psychologist Dr. Gregory Doane testified at her trial, according to court papers. “She just couldn’t put two and two together when she saw what happened.” Doane, who was Diaz’s psychologist for more than a year after her arrest, testified that his initial diagnosis of Diaz was of persistent depression. Then, he revised that to include major depression with psychotic features. He then changed the diagnosis to include borderline personality disorder. The appeals court agreed that Doane’s testimony and Diaz’s gullibility defense should have been considered during the trial. Diaz’s attorneys had contended that Diaz believed Naranjo was only going to bind her family and stage a robbery. She hoped that the robbery would bring the family closer together. Instead, Naranjo stabbed and slashed to death four family members before running out the back door when Diaz’s adoptive mother, Sylvia Flores, survived the attack and fought back. Doane testified that he believed that Diaz’s mental state could have rendered her sufficiently gullible to believe Naranjo’s robbery plan, court papers show. However, because the judge refused to admit Doane’s testimony, the appeals court reversed Diaz’s convictions on the special circumstances tied to her murder convictions. The special circumstances included multiple murders, lying in wait to commit murder and premeditated murder. The court also reversed Diaz’s conviction of attempted premeditated murder against her adoptive mother. The sentencing phase has not yet occurred in Diaz’s appeal. But Deputy State Attorney General Michael R. Johnsen said he may file for a rehearing with the state Supreme Court. “The practical effect is that she remains convicted of four counts of first-degree murder,” said Johnsen. “She essentially has 100 years to life.” If given the minimum sentence, however, Diaz could leave prison on parole after 25 years, Johnsen said. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!