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Nicole Cadwalader

UPPER DUBLIN >> An Ambler woman accused of murdering her grandmother almost a year ago was held for trial on homicide charges at a May 23 preliminary hearing.

Nicole Ryan Cadwalader, 31, who lived with her 68-year-old grandmother, Sharon Burke, in the 100 block of South Chestnut Street, will be tried on charges of first- and third-degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime and resisting arrest.

Clad in a maroon Montgomery County Prison jumpsuit, Cadwalader sat silently during the 20-minute proceeding.

Cadwalader was arrested June 4, 2018, after arriving at the Ambler Borough Police Department at 6:04 a.m. and telling officers she had killed her grandmother, hitting her in the head with a bat and slitting her throat, according to the criminal complaint.

She has been held without bail since, and following involuntary commitment to Norristown State Hospital for treatment and several mental health evaluations, Cadwalader was declared competent to face court action during a competency review hearing earlier in May.

Ambler police Officer Nicholas Nasobkow testified at the May 23 hearing that based on Cadwalader’s statement, he went to Burke’s home at 6:19 a.m. and found Burke on her knees, hunched over a chair in her bedroom with “her fingers chewed up,” a cellphone on the chair and a “lot of blood.”

The tip of one finger was missing, there was blood in her hair and around her neck, and a steak knife with blood on it was found in the kitchen and a baseball bat with blood by the front door, he said.

A medical officer came and confirmed Burke was dead, Nasobkow said.

Ambler police Detective Sgt. Chad Cassel, who with a Montgomery County detective interviewed Cadwalader, read from a written statement she gave at the police station.

Cadwalader said she slit Burke’s throat, stabbed her with two knives and hit her with a pan and then a baseball bat in the kitchen of the home, according to the statement read. She said she felt the murder was “justified,” calling her grandmother “a horrible person … a wretched, evil woman,” and she was “glad she was dead.”

In the statement, she said she left the house and went to a friend’s house, where she confessed to killing her grandmother, and went back to find her grandmother had dragged herself to her bedroom, but didn’t check on her, and then went to the police station.

She told police she takes medicine prescribed by a psychologist.

Cassel also testified that Cadwalader kicked a female Whitpain police officer in the shin when police were trying to remove clothing from her, and later bent the officer’s fingers back when the officer was checking to make sure the handcuffs were tight enough.

Carrie L. Allman, a public defender representing Cadwalader, confirmed with Cassel that Cadwalader went to the station of her own accord, “told you she felt the killing was justified,” takes medicine and is under the care of a psychologist.

Allman argued that given the mental health aspect, the fact that Cadwalader is on prescription medication and “the only evidence we have are statements,” the crime did not rise to a first-degree case.

Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Richard Bradbury responded, “There is enough here to proceed forward,” noting Cadwalader’s statement says she stabbed her grandmother multiple times.

District Judge Patricia Zaffarano agreed with the prosecution and upheld all the charges.

Formal arraignment was scheduled for July 17.

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