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A 47-year-old woman who led police on a high-speed chase through Hixson while wearing body armor has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Two doctors said Julia Shields' mental state was "in question" when she reportedly fired at several parked cars and waved a gun at neighbors as young as 8 years old in her Cloverdale neighborhood on Dec. 26, 2014, court records show. After police found her in the Stuart Heights Baptist Church parking lot, Shields drove away, continuing to brandish her gun as she passed vehicles. Officers eventually stopped her at Cloverdale Loop and Koblan Drive, making the arrest just blocks from her home without further incident.

Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole made the not guilty ruling Jan. 27 after attorneys announced their agreement. "The defendant suffers from a severe mental disease," he wrote. "As a result, [she] was unable to appreciate the nature of wrongfulness of [her] acts."

Because of the ruling, Shields is not guilty of three counts of attempted first-degree murder, six counts of aggravated assault, and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, reckless endangerment, and felony evading arrest. She has a check-up hearing March 8, clerks said, and is under the care of a psychiatric hospital.

Shields has a sparse criminal record outside of the shooting. Based on that, she would be considered a "Range I offender," the county district attorney's office spokeswoman, Melydia Clewell, wrote in an email.

Therefore, Shields conceivably faced 15 to 25 years for the attempted murder charges, three to six years for the aggravated assault charges, one to two years for the evading arrest and reckless endangerment charges, and an 11-month and 29-day sentence for the firearm possession during a felony.

Records show the judge ordered Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute to evaluate Shields in July 2015. That fall, he also approved a 48-hour release from custody so Shields could have surgery for her recently diagnosed breast cancer. At the time, the public defender's office said she also needed 18 weeks of chemotherapy treatment.

In November 2016, Poole ordered another forensic evaluation to determine Shields' competency and her psychiatric condition at the time of the crime. Competency measures whether a person understands the proceedings against them, the people involved — like the defense attorney, prosecutor, and judge — and whether they can properly assist in their defense.

A month later, Moccasin Bend started to file its reports.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.

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