DA wants judge to hear case in which Schlosser severed daughter’s arms
Dena Schlosser will face a second trial in the death of her 10-month-old daughter, the Collin County district attorney said Monday.
District Attorney John Roach said prosecutors would ask state District Judge Chris Oldner at a pre-trial hearing Wednesday to decide the case instead of a jury. It will be up to Ms. Schlosser whether a jury would hear her case.
The Plano mother’s capital murder trial ended in a mistrial last month when jurors deadlocked at 10-2 in favor of not guilty by reason of insanity.
“The issue now is whether Dena Schlosser and her attorneys will waive her right to a jury trial,” Mr. Roach said. “If she does, the case will be submitted to the judge without a jury. If she does not waive her right to a jury trial, there will be no other choice but a full-blown jury trial. We are ready whatever their choice.”
One of Ms. Schlosser’s attorneys, David Haynes, said the defense hopes to decide by Wednesday’s pre-trial hearing whether Ms. Schlosser will ask for a trial by judge or jury.
“He [the district attorney] plans to retry the case; that’s what we’ve been expecting,” Mr. Haynes said. “We’re thinking about it.”
A recent change in state law would allow the defense and prosecution to agree that Ms. Schlosser was insane when she severed Maggie Schlosser’s arms at the shoulders in November 2004. But Mr. Roach said Monday that the only options he would consider were a trial by judge or jury.
The state and defense do not disagree that Ms. Schlosser killed her daughter – only about her state of mind at the time.
Doctors diagnosed postpartum depression and psychosis in Ms. Schlosser after Maggie was born. Testimony showed she had numerous religious-based hallucinations and delusions that year. She thought God wanted her to kill Maggie. Three psychiatrists testified at the trial that Ms. Schlosser was insane when she killed her daughter.
The state is seeking to send Ms. Schlosser to prison for life. The defense wants Ms. Schlosser to go to a mental institution until the judge and doctors say she should be released.
Local defense attorney Barry Sorrels, who has successfully used the insanity defense in a Collin County court, said deciding whether to proceed with a trial by Judge Oldner or a jury is a “tough call.”
“I would trust Judge Oldner, that he would make the right decision. The expert testimony in this case is overwhelming … that she was insane at the time,” Mr. Sorrels said. “He will make a good call based on the evidence, not politics. I would seriously consider waiving the jury trial.”
He added that he also wouldn’t hesitate to try the case before a second jury. Considering that most of the jurors voted for insanity, Mr. Sorrels said, a second jury would probably do the same.
“And if you look at the results, she should have been found not guilty last time,” he said. “The only reason she wasn’t was because one juror made up his mind before the whole thing started.”