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Woman Who Cut Off Child's Arms Not Competent for Trial

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

McKINNEY, Texas -- A woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression after cutting off her baby's arms is not competent to stand trial on a murder charge, a jury ruled Monday.

The verdict came after only minutes of deliberations in Dena Schlosser's brief competency trial. Prosecutors and defense attorneys each requested that she not stand trial.

Attorneys said they expected the judge on Tuesday to issue a special order committing Schlosser to a state hospital in Vernon. Once there, her case could only be re-evaluated if doctors believe she has become competent to stand trial.

Schlosser, 36, was charged with capital murder Nov. 22, after she told a 911 operator she had severed 10-month-old Margaret's arms. Police found Schlosser in the living room, covered in blood, still holding a knife and listening to a church hymn.

She sat slumped in her chair and staring straight ahead when the verdict was read and during most of the trial. Black belts restrained her wrists, keeping her hands close to her waist. Her ankles also were shackled with black belts.

Defense attorney David Haynes didn't comment after the verdict.

Earlier Monday, a court-appointed psychiatrist testified that Schlosser suffers from bipolar disorder and depression and is an extreme suicide risk.

"She's stated over and over that she wishes she'd been allowed to go with her daughter," Dr. David Self said during the brief trial in which prosecutors called no witnesses and didn't ask questions.

Self, who evaluated Schlosser on Sunday, said she was often incoherent and repeatedly alluded to killing herself. He said her depression had "grossly worsened" since he examined her last month and recommended she be placed in a state mental hospital.

Schlosser said she wouldn't have a problem with lethal injection if she were sentenced to death, Self said.

"When somebody tells you the death penalty is fine, you can pretty well take it to the bank that they are not well-motivated to make decisions on their behalf," he said.

Schlosser sobbed uncontrollably and could not discuss certain aspects of the case, Self said. He said she repeatedly uttered phrases in whispers.

Last month, Self determined that Schlosser suffered from bipolar disorder and postpartum onset and was unfit for trial.

Schlosser had been hospitalized for postpartum depression in January as part of a Child Protective Services neglect investigation. CPS officials have said Schlosser exhibited symptoms of psychosis but said she improved with medication and psychiatric help. CPS closed the investigation in August after determining she was stable.

Schlosser's two surviving daughters, ages 6 and 9, were returned to their father this week after living in foster care since their mother's arrest.

On Friday, a judge ruled that John Schlosser can have sole custody of the two girls, so long as the girls stay in daily phone contact with his sister who lives in New York.


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