Mom to officer: 'I felt like I had to'
New details emerge in case; psychiatrist to weigh woman's mental state
By THOMAS KOROSEC
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
MCKINNEY - A court-appointed psychiatrist will examine the 35-year-old Plano homemaker who is charged with cutting off her infant daughter's arms with a 9-inch kitchen knife.
Attorneys said Tuesday that the capital murder case against Dena Schlosser will not move forward until she is found mentally competent to stand trial.
New details about the case emerged in court papers in which Plano police described Schlosser as having a "dazed look in her eyes" when they arrived at her apartment Nov. 22. An officer said she told him she killed 10-month-old Margaret because "I felt like I had to."
State and defense attorneys agreed to appoint Dr. David Self, the senior psychiatrist at Rusk State Hospital, to examine Schlosser.
State District Judge Chris Oldner ordered Self to report on Schlosser's mental state by Jan. 21. Self said he has testified as a psychological expert for both the defense and prosecution, and has been a witness for the state in several death penalty cases.
David Haynes, Schlosser's attorney, said his client is "still somewhat confused" and unable to help in her own defense.
"She is on medication and has been getting better," Haynes said, adding that his client is taking the anti-psychotic drug Haldol.
"Nothing is going to happen until she is found mentally competent," Haynes said. "If she isn't, then she is going to have to be sent off for treatment."
Schlosser was hospitalized for postpartum depression last January, when her third child was born, and appeared to be in a fog shortly after the attack on her daughter.
Schlosser, who was found covered in blood and holding a knife, had a "dazed look" when officers questioned her, according to a police affidavit. Schlosser said "I felt like I had to," when officer David Tilley asked why she had killed her daughter.
She failed to respond when Tilley asked her to elaborate, the affidavit states.
Tilley wrote that he found Schlosser splashed with blood, sitting in her living room, listening to church hymns and repeatedly saying "praise God, thank you God."
"Several times, both during my interviewing her and also just randomly, Schlosser would smile," Tilley wrote. "I asked her why she was smiling but got no response."
He found a Bible at the foot of the bed in the master bedroom opened to the book of Timothy.
Haynes, the defense lawyer, said he had not seen the affidavit and did not know what, if any, passage his client was reading at the time of the killing.
He said his client recently quoted to him a Bible verse in the book of Matthew that he said he believes influenced her actions.
The verse Schlosser told him was: "If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."
Haynes said he believes his client might have taken the passage literally.
"I'm not a theologian, but I think the meaning is: If anything gets between you and your faith, get rid of it. It doesn't mean take a meat cleaver and cut something off," he said.
"Her entire life is relevant to our defense," Haynes said.
He said he is interested in exploring his client's childhood affliction with fluid on the brain, which was treated with three surgeries, and her frequent attendance in the past two years at the nondenominational Water of Life Church.
The small Plano congregation is led by Doyle Davidson, a self-proclaimed prophet. Schlosser's parents have told reporters they believe Davidson's teachings helped push her toward psychosis and the killing of her child. Davidson has dismissed those claims, saying he had little interaction with Schlosser.
The day before the attack, Schlosser told her husband she wanted to give her children to God, according to Texas' Child Protective Services. The agency took temporary custody of the couple's other girls, ages 6 and 9, after the baby was killed, and cited the father's failure to act after his wife's warning.
Attorneys said that if Schlosser is found mentally competent, prosecutors will decide by early spring whether they will seek the death penalty.
A trial could begin as early as next fall.
More here, including a look at Davidson, this woman's creepy evangelist hero.
Let's talk about various types of religion.
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