Plano: She had hallucinations before killing, official testifies
McKINNEY – Dena Schlosser believed that the end of days was coming and that she was following God’s instructions when she used a kitchen knife to kill her 10-month-old daughter, a mental health counselor testified Thursday.
On the fourth day of Ms. Schlosser’s capital murder trial, a counselor detailed religious thoughts and hallucinations that Ms. Schlosser described once she was taken into custody: streets of blood, a little boy she believed was Jesus, television programs that spoke to her.
Ms. Schlosser said she experienced the images while suffering from postpartum psychosis after her daughter’s birth, said Sherry Wing, a counselor at the Collin County Jail.
Ms. Schlosser, 37, is accused of severing her daughter Maggie’s arms at the shoulders. She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Ms. Wing said Ms. Schlosser thought she was supposed to die when her daughter did. When police found Ms. Schlosser and the child in their Plano apartment, the hymn “He Touched Me” played in the background. And Ms. Schlosser had stabbed herself in the shoulder.
“She would see blood on the street. The blood would turn into apostles,” Ms. Wing said Ms. Schlosser told her. She said the apostles told Ms. Schlosser: “It’s the end of days. Be ready.”
Most of the conversations between Ms. Schlosser and Ms. Wing took place as the counselor sat on the floor outside Ms. Schlosser’s jail cell in the infirmary. They spoke through a slot in the door used to pass food to inmates. Ms. Wing said she could see Ms. Schlosser’s face as they spoke. She said Ms. Schlosser sometimes cried so hard her body shook.
Ms. Schlosser once told her a little boy knocked on the door and asked for a glass of water. She told Ms. Wing she believed the child was Jesus and she should begin preparing to feed the multitudes. Whenever the Schlosser family went out to eat, Ms. Schlosser brought home food to save.
Ms. Wing testified that Ms. Schlosser once heard the sound of a chainsaw and thought people were building an ark, as in the biblical story of Noah. Ms. Schlosser again thought it was a sign of the end of the word.
She thought Ariel in the children’s movie The Little Mermaid was speaking to her, saying she should throw away the things she sang about in the movie.
Ms. Schlosser told Ms. Wing she thought Maggie was supposed to be given to the family’s charismatic minister, self-proclaimed prophet and apostle Doyle Davidson, who leads Water of Life church in Plano.
“She thought Maggie was to marry Doyle,” Ms. Wing said. There was no other testimony about why Ms. Schlosser believed this or when she thought the marriage should occur.
Ms. Wing said Ms. Schlosser frequently talked about missing and loving Maggie and her other two daughters, now 10 and 7. Ms. Schlosser’s husband, John, has filed for divorce and is asking the court to terminate Ms. Schlosser’s parental rights. She has not seen the girls since Maggie died.
Once, Ms. Wing recalled, Ms. Schlosser talked about hurting Maggie that November morning in 2004. She thought she was following God’s instructions.
“How could I have done it? How could I have done it?” Ms. Wing recalled her saying.
Ms. Wing and another medical staff member at the jail testified that they did not believe Ms. Schlosser was in her right mind when she killed Maggie. Ms. Schlosser cycled on and off the anti-psychotic drug Haldol after Maggie’s birth, and she was not taking it when the baby died.
“Whether Dena is in her right mind depends on her medication,” said Lisa Corley, a physician’s assistant at the Collin County Jail.
Prosecutors harshly questioned a witness who testified about believing Ms. Schlosser was psychotic when Maggie died.
The defense objected that prosecutor John Dobiyanski was arguing with Ms. Corley when he pressed her that she could not know Ms. Schlosser’s state of mind. The objection was sustained.
If a jury believes Ms. Schlosser was insane when Maggie died, she will go to a state mental hospital until a judge and doctors agree she should be released. A guilty verdict would send her to prison for life. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.
Ms. Schlosser is on a cocktail of about eight anti-psychotic, antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs, Ms. Corley said. They include Haldol, Lithium and Zoloft. Doctors were worried about how she would handle the trial and decided to keep her highly medicated.
Bob Nicholas, a former stepfather whom Ms. Schlosser still calls “Daddy,” testified she would not have hurt her daughter had she been in her right mind.
“There is no way that I feel Dena, had she been in her right mind, that Dena would have done this,” Mr. Nicholas said. “I can’t reconcile it.”
Mr. Nicholas, 61 and living in North Carolina, met Ms. Schlosser when she was 5 and married her mother two years later. The couple divorced when Ms. Schlosser was in college, but the two maintained their father-daughter relationship.
Mr. Nicholas described a series of brain surgeries Ms. Schlosser underwent as a child to alleviate fluid buildup in the brain. She underwent at least eight surgeries during which five holes were drilled into her skull. Doctors put in a shunt to relieve the fluid. There were numerous shunt malfunctions, and the surgery had to be done again.
Mr. Nicholas testified he found out about Maggie’s death on the Internet. Ms. Schlosser’s husband, John, left a message that Ms. Schlosser was in jail the night of the baby’s death. He did not hear the message until the following day. The message did not say why Ms. Schlosser was in jail.
“I screamed,” Mr. Nicholas said, referring to when he found out what happened. His voice cracked, and he held back tears as he spoke.