Tumor may have affected Schlosser

Doctors: Growth in brain a possible factor in baby’s killing

Doctors say Dena Schlosser has a brain tumor that might have caused hallucinations that motivated her to kill her 10-month-old daughter by cutting off her arms.

After a hearing Friday in which Ms. Schlosser waived her right to a jury trial, her attorney, David Haynes, said the tumor was first detected in an MRI in March 2005 at North Texas State Hospital in Vernon – four months after the killing.

But Mr. Haynes said that she was returned to the Collin County Jail before hospital doctors could follow up, and the MRI remained unknown to attorneys until a medical superintendent mentioned it during her trial in February, in which jurors deadlocked 10-2 in favor of finding her not guilty by reason of insanity.

Mr. Haynes said a second MRI taken since the trial confirmed that Ms. Schlosser has a brain tumor, which her neurologist believes could cause loss of balance or “vivid focused hallucination.”

The second scan suggests the tumor could have affected Ms. Schlosser’s brain function, Collin County Jail psychiatrist Xiaoyan Wu testified Friday.

Ms. Schlosser said she was acting on what she believed to be God’s orders when she severed her daughter’s arms.

The relevance of the diagnosis to her trial was unclear Friday, but her attorneys wanted the court to be aware of it.

“You can’t say that [the tumor] did cause … [hallucinations] in her case, but it’s interesting,” Mr. Haynes said. “We wanted to follow up on it; we wanted to inform the court of it.

“Could it have been there in November of 2004? Yeah, it could have, but the report calls it a neoplasm of unclear duration, so no one knows how long it’s been there. We thought the court needed to know about it.”

Ms. Schlosser’s decision to waive a jury trial places the outcome of her prominent capital murder case in the hands of a judge.

State District Judge Chris Oldner scheduled a bench trial in McKinney on Friday for Ms. Schlosser.

Mr. Haynes and prosecutor Curtis Howard say they expect the bench trial to be relatively brief, with no new testimony or evidence.

The judge can find the defendant guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity or not guilty.

“The judge has heard three weeks of testimony about this case already,” said Mr. Haynes. “He doesn’t need to hear it again.”

The judge said he will prepare for the bench trial by reviewing transcripts from the original trial.

“It’ll just be arguments, and then the judge will, at that point, make a decision based upon the testimony and exhibits that were proffered during the trial,” Mr. Howard said.

At Friday’s hearing, Dr. Wu testified that Ms. Schlosser, who is under medication, understood that she was waiving her right to a jury.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Dallas Morning News, USA
Apr, 1, 2006
Jake Batsell

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday April 3, 2006.
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