Mom who said she killed on God’s orders acquitted

Jury rules she was insane when she bludgeoned her 3 children

(CNN) — A jury acquitted a Texas mother of killing two of her sons and seriously injuring the third after determining she was insane at the time.

As the verdicts were read, Deanna Laney’s face quivered, but the 39-year-old shed no tears.

Laney would have received an automatic life sentence had she been convicted of capital murder.

Instead, she will immediately be taken for evaluation to a maximum security state psychiatric hospital, where she could stay as long as 40 years.

Laney admitted bashing her three children in the heads with rocks. She said God told her to do so.

Laney was charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of 8-year-old Joshua and 6-year-old Luke, and a single count of injury to a child for 15-month old Aaron, who survived the attacks on Mother’s Day 2003.

Prosecutor Matt Bingham has said Aaron’s vision is impaired and he will never be able to live on his own.

Bingham chose not to seek the death penalty in the case.

“I don’t think anybody in this room or anybody in that courtroom wasn’t touched by the evidence in this case,” the Smith County district attorney told reporters after the verdicts.

“For the rest of my life I’ll remember Aaron, I’ll remember Joshua, I’ll remember Luke. I’ll never forget what happened to them that day,” he said.

Aaron, left, Luke and Joshua Laney are shown in this undated family photograph.

Laney’s court-appointed attorney, Buck Files, said he felt a sense of relief.

“We have believed as strongly as we could believe that our client was insane at the time of the events,” Files said.

Files said in court that Laney believed God had told her the world was going to end and “she had to get her house in order,” which included killing her children.

“The dilemma she faced is a terrible one for a mother,” Files told the jury. “Does she follow what she believes to be God’s will, or does she turn her back on God?”

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Apr. 3, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday April 3, 2004.
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