Woman didn’t know right from wrong in baby’s death, doctor says

A woman didn’t know right from wrong when she fatally cut off her 10-month-old baby’s arms and wasn’t getting the mental help she needed leading up to the killing, a psychiatrist testified in her capital murder trial Tuesday.

People close to Dena Schlosser also missed obvious signs of severe mental illness, Dr. William Reid told the jury of five women and seven men. Reid was to be questioned by prosecutors Tuesday afternoon.

“Everything I’ve seen indicates to me that she did not know what she was doing was wrong and she did not know right from wrong,” said Reid, the final witness called by the defense.

Schlosser, 37, was arrested in November 2004 after police found her soaked in blood, holding a knife and listening to a hymn as her baby Margaret, known as Maggie, lay dying in her crib. She had also sliced herself deep in the shoulder.

The defense is arguing that Schlosser, overwhelmed by delusions, was insane when Maggie was killed and needs hospitalization. The prosecution holds that while Schlosser may have mental illness, she knew what she was doing was wrong and should be sent to prison for life.

Another psychiatrist testified Monday that Schlosser said she was commanded by God to cut Maggie’s arms off, as well as her own arms, legs and head. Dr. David Self also said Schlosser didn’t understand why she was in jail for following God’s will.

Reid said Schlosser’s husband and church were partly responsible for her not receiving the care she needed. The pastor of Water of Life Church, Doyle Davidson, previously testified that God was the only cure for mental illness.

Reid also questioned why a hospital released Schlosser less than 24 hours after she abandoned Maggie by running away from the family’s apartment. She was found two miles away by Plano police.

“Ms. Schlosser was kept from adequate treatment, both in terms of getting and taking her medication, and seeing doctors and psychiatrists, both when she needed it and I believe when she wanted it,” Reid testified. “The church and her husband were big factors in not getting her treatment and not noticing symptoms that were very obvious.”

John Schlosser previously testified that it simply didn’t occur to him to get treatment for his wife. He said he thought she was getting better.

Dena Schlosser was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis not long after Maggie was born, and she was diagnosed with manic depression after Maggie’s death. She took anti-psychotic medication for a time, but she stopped about four months before Maggie was killed.

Originally declared mentally incompetent to stand trial, Dena Schlosser was cleared for trial in May after doctors treated her.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
AP, via The Dallas Morning News, USA
Feb. 21, 2006
Julia Glick

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday February 23, 2006.
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