By reason of mental defect

April 7, 2006 at 5:34 pm (Uncategorized)

It seems to me that we have not been outraged enough this week. Here is a story that should cause you at first to be very angry and then, perhaps, a bit reflective. straightjacket.jpg

Clearly, what this woman did is horrible. Keep reading, though. When you hear about the medical aspects of the case, does it cause you a degree of sympathy? Of at least empathy?

I think we'd all agree that the mental defect plea is over used and often abused in the courtroom. Typically, a killer or child abuser insist he or she committed these acts because he was abused himself as a child. Or his mommy didn't love him. Or he was bullied. We call those cop outs.

In this case, though… Well. I'll just let you get to it. A little food for thought for a rainy Friday night.

McKINNEY, Texas (AP) – A woman accused of cutting off her 10-month-old daughter's arms and sitting by as the baby slowly died in a crib was found not guilty by reason of insanity at a retrial Friday.

news 00.jpgPolice had arrested Dena Schlosser in 2004 after finding her baby daughter Margaret near death and Schlosser, 38, covered in blood, holding a knife and listening to a hymn.

A jury deadlocked on the murder charge at Schlosser's first trial in February, forcing a mistrial. Both sides agreed last week to have Judge Chris Oldner decide the case.

Oldner issued the verdict a brief hearing, and Schlosser is expected to be committed to a state mental hospital for treatment.

The case had hinged on whether Schlosser had severe mental problems that kept her from knowing her actions were wrong. Since the last trial ended, medical tests were discovered that found she had a brain tumor, which experts say could have caused her to have hallucinations. The defense testified that Schlosser had visions and believed she had to give her daughter to God.

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21 Comments

  1. Linda said,

    I’ve only been reading this blog for a couple of weeks. I’m curious at just what you all consider outrageous enough. Somebody please give me a holler when we get there OK? Or do you think I’ll know it when I see it? I mean, it’s so subjective.

    This is a very sad story. I wonder just what treatment she’ll get for a brain tumour in a Texas mental hospital.

  2. A.O. said,

    I’m sorry but, I can’t even read this. I couldn’t get past the line where the mother cut the babies arms off. Wow. That’s just too horrible to even begin to comprehend. I feel like crying.

  3. LaFlamme said,

    That’s the thing, Linda. We don’t put this stuff up gratuitously. It’s actually a very fascinating topic. I mean, the woman committed a heinous act, but what is more beyond a person’s control than a brain tumor?

  4. Linda said,

    Of course it’s fascinating, it pushes all our buttons. We never get tired of trying to figure out why people do awful things. Ever since Cain killed his brother, I guess. Do they feel guilty? What’s a fitting punishment?

    Are we as interested in what makes people do good things? Not so much.

  5. LaFlamme said,

    I dunno. That’s a fairly interesting subject, too. According to psycho-science, humans have a propensity to do good because it’s the most helpful for the tribe and for the propegation of the species. And I know it’s true because I read all about it in Discover Magazine.

  6. Bulldog said,

    My old neighbor died of a brain tumor back in 2000. She was always a happy person. Quiet yet strong. I started noticing that she was acting “differently” about 5-6 months before she was diagnosed. She wasn’t abusive to her kids but she was indifferent to their actions. Her house was a pigsty (which was VERY abnormal for her) and she got lost coming home from the grocery store. That’s when I stepped in and called her sister. They brought her to the hospital and that’s when the tumor was found. Although we were crushed when we found out, it gave us a clearer picture as to why she was doing what she was doing.

    I’m not saying that what this woman did was right. Causing harm of any form to a child is inexcusable BUT unless you have had first hand experience on this saddening disease, it’s hard to judge. It’s a sad story. And Linda’s right- what kind of treatment will she receive for this tumor in a mental hospital? Should taxpayers foot the bill? Does this woman deserve to be treated for it? It’s a tough one, really.

  7. LaFlamme said,

    Yeah. Few things are as ugly and sad as the sudden emergence of a brain tumor. Knew a man once who was as smart and succesful as anyone; had a great family, a beautiful house, etc. Went for a walk one day, couldn’t find his way back. A week later, he couldn’t read or recognize anymore. Two weeks after that, he was dead. Nasty stuff.

  8. Mainetarr said,

    I once read a story about a nun who was having visions that she believed was God and she would write about her experiences. Her writings became very popular and she sold her writings to earn money for the convent she was in. All of her fellow nuns were terribly jealous that this particular was touched by God. When she had her visions, she would get terrible headaches, have seizures and lose consciousness. This went on for some time until the headaches became too frequent and she was sent to a doctor. Upon examination and an MRI, he discovered she had a rather large pituatary tumor. In the neurological world, brain tumors are well known to cause “visions” and hallucinations. The nun was very distraught, she knew she needed an opeartion to have the tumor removed to alleiviate the headaches, but if the tumor was removed, she may stop having “visions: and the closeness with God she so desperately wanted. And, she would not have writing material and the convent would not be able to get money for desperately needed repairs. In the end, she had the tumor removed, but the visions stopoped immediately thereafter. It was a sad story, but it is powerful what a brain tumor can do to a person. I NEVER believe the insanity defense, but in the case of a provable brain tumor, I feel nothing but sadness for this woman. She doesn’t need a mental hospital, she needs a neurosurgeon. Imagine the greif and remorse she will feel once the tumor is removed, if it even is operable? You know, Osama Bin Laden’s right hand man, I forget his name, had the same type of tumor as the nun I described above. He was number two in the terrorists world because he had “visions” from Allah that were very vivid and he was known to speak directly to Allah. It all had to do with the brain tumor he had. It was discovered when he had a seizure and was hospitalized in Syria.

  9. Bobbie said,

    I know first hand what a tumor can do to someone and I also know first hand what the treatment for most tumors will do to a person as well. Removing a tumor will help the person to regain a somewhat normal life, but then you’ve got to consider that they’ll probably be on meds for the rest of their lives to control seizures. Most people don’t know that the side effect of the meds used to control seizures is the possibility of more seizures. Then you have the barbituates that take a toll on the brain as well and ultimately can cause more damage than the tumor ever thought about doing. Due to the experience of dealing with the first brain tumor that my father had, we knew all too well what was going on when his behavior would change and he’d have seizures again.

    Here’s something else to consider-what happens if they do remove this lady’s tumor and she’s good to go? Will Texas be willing to spend more money to try her again for this crime or let her go?

  10. Bulldog said,

    Man, you guys are thinking too deep for my brain tonight. Good deep thoughts but the skull is a little thick for this type of penetration. I’ll ponder it and get back to you tomorrow. My pillow is calling my name.

  11. Linda said,

    Yes, we sound like a newspaper blog, not an “AOL chatroom”. (What an unkind cut that was from Eric, eh?)

  12. Mainetarr said,

    Sorry Bulldog. Brain tumors are my thing, I guess, as weird as that sounds. I see enough of it at work and it fascinates me. The first surgery I ever had the privilege of watching was a malignant brain tumor being removed. I got to stand beside the doctor and look into someone’s head. I actually saw a brain stem and got to see the difference between a tumor and the actual brain. It was amazing…I still get goose bumps thinking about it. There is so much technology out there today and so much more on the horizon. At my office, we use (here I go again) a Stealth Neuronavigational System that lets the doctors operate using a wireless computer system. The technology is unbelieveable. There is stereotactic radio surgery, gamma knives, Stealths….and the list goes on. But you are probably all bored to tears, so I will shut up now.

  13. Linda said,

    I’m not bored, Mainetarr, I saw brain surgery too and it was one of the most intense experiences I ever had. It was about 15 years ago so the technology wasn’t what you describe, but wow. Imagine actually doing that?

    When I want to make a sarcastic comment about something being simple, I always say “it’s not rocket science,” never “it’s not brain surgery.” Can’t joke about it.

    Anyone know any rocket scientists, want to tell the other side of that story?

  14. LaFlamme said,

    And I suppose all of you know about Michael Persinger and his so-called God Helmet? By tweaking the temporal lobes with mild shocks, he is able to induce religious visions in volunteers. Except me. All I saw were ducks.

  15. Mainetarr said,

    Some brilliant writer told me about that God Helmet. When I tried it, I saw bottles of Fat Bastard dancing in my head.

  16. LaFlamme said,

    A great article on the God Helmet can be found here:
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.11/persinger.html

  17. Linda said,

    Mark, you aren’t screwing around with the blog, are you? It’s been acting peculiar. I tried to post and got a full-screen view for example (and my post didn’t go, either).

    I’ve been loving this WordPress though, don’t mean to sound ungrateful. You really took good care of the tribe when the apocalypse came down.

  18. LaFlamme said,

    Hmmm. Little hiccups like that have been reported and I haven’t been able to nail them all down. I wonder if you were posting while I was uploading another blog or something. Let me know if it keeps up.

  19. brenda said,

    A tumor on the brain definitely would be a factor .
    And I definitely think money shouldn’t be an issue who gets health care. A rich person, and a poor person, with the same injury or desease, and the care & prognosis depends on money? Not in America! Because we are a compassionate civilization.

    …but that lady who drowned 5 kids & blamed it on post partum depression, I have a problem swallowing that one. There was another case, a long time ago, where a mom had her kids strapped in the car & let it go into a lake because she was depressed. That one I can see, because I can imagine, in an unbalanced emotional state,making a bad choice, just one action with horrible consequences & that would be regretted later. I could imagine , maybe, that she drowned the first one out of depression. But to chase down the second, third, fourth, and the oldest one fifth who was aware what was happening & gave a struggle- there was so much chance to stop herself, to do something else – I think she had made a decision & she was persistent in carrying it out.

  20. brenda said,

    interesting , mainetarr, about the brain tumors causing religious hallucinations. Guess I better not share my spiritual visions/ experiences !!!???

  21. K2 said,

    This is where I’m a right wing nut, I guess. This woman did a deed so dastardly, that she should be snuffed out. Yes, she MAY have a medical excuse, like Lenny truly had, in Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men.’ After he accidently snapped the neck of the curley-haired, pretty-girl flirt in a moment of panic, it was his own best friend George who shot him in the back of the head, not only to spare Lenny from the hangman’s noose, but to also appease the dead girl’s loved ones and friends. It was a dignified eye for an eye.

    Some actions, no matter the cause, are unforgiveable. Hang her.

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