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Severed arms case ends in insanity verdict

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.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A woman accused of killing her 10-month-old daughter by cutting off the baby's arms was found not guilty of capital murder by reason of insanity in her retrial Friday.

Police had arrested Dena Schlosser in November 2004 after finding her baby Margaret dying in her crib, and Schlosser covered in blood, holding a knife and listening to a hymn.

Both sides waived closing arguments Friday, and a judge issued the verdict after a brief proceeding in McKinney, just north of Dallas. Schlosser, 38, of Plano, is expected to be committed to a state mental hospital for treatment.

Both sides agreed last week to have Judge Chris Oldner decide the case after a jury deadlocked in February, forcing a mistrial. Oldner was to decide based on evidence presented in Schlosser's February trial.

The case hinged on whether Schlosser had severe mental problems that kept her from knowing the wrongfulness of the crime -- the Texas standard for insanity.

Brain tumor
Last week it was revealed that Schlosser had a brain tumor, something that defense attorneys had told Oldner could have caused hallucinations before the killing.

The tumor was a new element in the defense's argument, which had focused on Schlosser's psychological disorders. Several psychiatrists testified that Schlosser lost touch with reality, suffered severe mood swings and experienced religious hallucinations and delusions.

One doctor said Schlosser told him she wanted to cut off her baby's arms and her own limbs and head and give them to God. Other medical testimony referenced erratic behavior and hallucinations, including apostles rising out of blood-filled streets to herald the apocalypse.

Defense faults preacher, husband
Testimony in the first trial lasted seven days and also included police, acquaintances, family, social workers and Schlosser's preacher, Doyle Davidson.

The defense faulted Schlosser's husband for not getting her adequate mental health treatment and also blamed Davidson, who believes only God can cure mental illness.

The state argued the defense was trying to deflect responsibility from Schlosser. Prosecutors presented a methodical case, focusing on possible inconsistencies and behaviors that might indicate Schlosser knew killing her baby was wrong.

After 42 hours of deliberations, the jury deadlocked with 10 of the 12 agreeing she was insane. Oldner declared a mistrial Feb. 25.

John Schlosser, Schlosser's husband, has filed for divorce and has custody of the couple's two other daughters.