SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -

An Aptos woman who smothered her daughter is headed to a state hospital for treatment, a judge ruled Monday.

Veva Virgil, 42, was found guilty of murder in March for the death of her 3 1/2 -year-old daughter in November 2008. Earlier this month, jurors determined Virgil was legally insane at the time of the killing.

Her attorneys said Virgil was having a psychotic episode and believed she was saving her daughter from evil in the world. They also said she had a history of mental illness.

Because Virgil was determined to have been legally insane when she committed the murder, she will be sent to a state hospital rather than to prison. The length of her stay in the hospital and the course of treatment now falls under the jurisdiction of the state hospital system.

Defense attorney Jim McMillin said his client was relieved to be going to the state hospital for treatment after all this time. She has been in custody at the County Jail or in a state hospital since late 2008.

She could have faced up to 25 years in prison if jurors had decided she was legally sane when she killed her daughter.

Motel employees found the body of Isabella Grace Martinez inside a room at the Motel 6 on Silverleaf Drive on Nov. 15, 2008. Virgil was arrested the next day at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, where she'd been placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold.