The jury began deliberations just after noon today in the capital murder trial of the Plano mother accused of killing her 10-month-old daughter by cutting off her arms at the shoulders.
In closing arguments, prosecutors told the jury of five women and seven men that psychiatrists who testified Dena Schlosser was insane made up their minds before ever examining her.
They said the crime was so horrible, the psychiatrists, like many people, already believed that only someone not in her right mind would kill a baby by severing her arms at the shoulders.
Defense attorney David Haynes told jurors that they should not ignore the emotions they feel about the case.
“Feel the emotion,” he told them. But, he added, “Decide the case on the evidence.”
Linda Tucker, an alternate juror who was dismissed when the jury began deliberations, initially refused to comment as she left the courthouse. Just before she got in her car she said she had not yet made a decision, but added, “I mean, do you want her back on the street?”
When asked what she thought of the cases presented by both sides, Ms. Tucker said: “I think they both did very well. I was very impressed.”
Mr. Haynes said he was “a little surprised” that the prosecution didn’t put on testimony from psychiatrists. When asked about the experts that testified for the defense, he said, “They all came to the same conclusion. That ought to tell you something.”
He said he remains hopeful the defense would be successful, but noted that “almost every insanity defense is unsuccessful.”
Prosecutor John William “Bill” Dobiyanski slammed the experts’ testimony, saying it is not definitive. Psychiatrists who testified described different reasons and episodes they concluded Ms. Schlosser was insane.
“Is an educated guess enough? Does guess work really count?” he said. “That’s disturbing.”
In closing arguments, defense attorney Bill Schultz countered that if prosecutors believed there was an alternate diagnosis, they would have had someone they hired examine Ms. Schlosser.
He asked, “Where is the psychiatrist for the state? All he’s got to do is hire somebody of his own.”
Mr. Haynes said there is not “one shred” of evidence that Ms. Schlosser was sane when Maggie died.
“There is not one shred, not one shred of evidence she acted in her right mind,” he said. “The evidence shows she is not guilty by reason insanity. I am asking you to have the courage to say so.”
Prosecutor Curtis Howard said it was not until after Ms. Schlosser killed Maggie that people began to think she was crazy.
“You get to see Dena Schlosser’s life after she horribly murdered her child,” he said. “People looked at her differently. She became that Plano mother who cut the arms off her child.”
Mr. Schultz called Ms. Schlosser to stand next to him for a few moments. He told the jury, “Maybe you’ve got to hate her.”
He then told the jury that she was very sick, although better than she was in November 2004 when Maggie was killed.
Ms. Schlosser, wearing a black suit and orange blouse, stood next to him for a few moments, staring blankly before sitting down.
Mr. Haynes said the past psychotic episodes and mental illness were a buildup to a break with reality the day Maggie died. Her older girls were at school and her husband at work.
“That’s when the last defense, the last dike broke and madness settled in,” he said. “There was no one there to help her.”
Dallas Morning News reporters Bill Lodge and Tiara M. Ellis contributed to this report.