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Deanna LaJune LANEY

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Parricide - Laney claimed God ordered her to bash in her sons' heads
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 9, 2003
Date of arrest: Same day (surrenders)
Date of birth: 1965
Victim profile: Her two older sons, Joshua, 8, and Luke, 6
Method of murder: Beating with a rock
Location: New Chapell Hill, Smith County, Texas, USA
Status: Acquitted of all charges by reason of insanity on April 3, 2004. Committed to a maximum security state hospital. Released on May 24, 2012
 
 

 
 

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The Deanna Laney murders were the killings, by Deanna Laney, of her two oldest sons (Joshua, 8, and Luke, 6) by stoning.

On 3 April 2004, a jury acquitted her of all charges by reason of insanity.

Details

During the investigation, Laney claimed God ordered her to bash in her sons' heads. Laney is a member of an Assemblies of God church, where she sang in the choir.

Five mental health experts were consulted in her case: two each by the prosecution and defense, and one by the judge. All of them arrived at the conclusion that Laney suffered from psychotic delusions which made her unable to know right from wrong at the time of the killings.

05/24/2012: Court documents obtained by KLTV-TV of Tyler show Deanna Laney of New Chapel Hill, near Tyler, was released after four psychiatrists testified behind closed doors last week that she no longer posed a threat to others. State attorneys disagreed.

However, she is subject to a list of conditions, including that she have no unsupervised contact with minors and submit to regular drug tests to ensure that she takes required medication.

A Smith County jury acquitted Laney in 2004 of the deaths of two sons, 8-year-old Joshua and 6-year-old Luke. Son Aaron, then 14 months old, survived but suffered brain damage.

Wikipedia.org


Deanna Laney Released From State Hospital

By Dayna Worchel - TylerPaper.com

May 25, 2012

A New Chapel Hill housewife who was acquitted by a Smith County jury in April 2004 on reasons of insanity for stoning her sons to death has been released from Kerrville State Hospital.

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said Deanna Laney, now 47, has been confined to the hospital since 2007 after she was transferred from Vernon State Hospital in 2004.

There was a closed-door civil commitment hearing for Ms. Laney in November in the 114th District Court, but the outcome of that hearing was unclear.

"All of the doctors who came to the November hearing testified that she wasn't mentally ill," Bingham said. He added that his office did everything possible to find evidence to allow Ms. Laney to remain in the mental hospital, including calling in his own experts to testify.

Bingham said he respected the verdict of the jury and that Judge Christy Kennedy "did what she had to do and followed the law." He said he wants the public to understand that his office and Judge Kennedy had to follow the law.

According to Judge Kennedy's order, "Witnesses testified that Deanna Laney was not likely to cause harm to herself, that she was not likely to cause serious harm to others and that she was not experiencing substantial mental deterioration of her ability to function independently. All witnesses testified that there was no further need for Deanna Laney to continue inpatient treatment."

Bingham said he did not know exactly when Ms. Laney was released and did not know where she was living. Her treatment plan has been sealed by the court, he said, because the case became a civil matter after she was acquitted. Her husband, Keith Laney, has been notified of the release, Bingham said.

Matt Bingham and Ms. Laney's defense attorney F.R. Buck Files had said they were barred by law from discussing the results after the November hearing.

When Ms. Laney was acquitted by a Smith County jury in April 2004, then-114th District Judge Cynthia Stevens Kent ordered Ms. Laney be placed in a maximum-security inpatient treatment facility. Since then, it has been determined at hearings each year that Ms. Laney should remain at an inpatient facility. Judge Kent retired from the bench in 2008.

In June 2004, Vernon State Hospital transferred Ms. Laney from its maximum-security facility to Kerrville State Hospital, a nonsecure inpatient facility, court documents state.

Between August and December 2005, Ms. Laney's treatment team granted her brief passes off the hospital campus in Kerrville.

In 2007, after attorneys discovered that Ms. Laney had been transferred from Vernon State Hospital to Kerrville State Hospital and was being allowed unsupervised furloughs by doctors, Judge Kent put a stop to it at the request of prosecutors.

Ms. Laney's defense attorneys appealed the decision, but the 12th Court of Appeals ruled in April 2007 that the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation could not grant Ms. Laney passes to leave the facility with her parents to go shopping and dining in the Hill Country.

Law Enforcement Reaction

Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith said on Thursday that he is shocked, very concerned and upset about the release.

"I believe that most of us in law enforcement were under the impression that Deanna Laney would be hospitalized for the rest of her life," he said.

Smith's office investigated the 2003 deaths of Ms. Laney's children, and Smith and other seasoned lawmen said it was one of the most gruesome crime scenes they had ever seen.

The sheriff, after being asked by the Tyler Morning Telegraph spoke with Judge Kennedy's court more than two weeks ago and was told that Ms. Laney was confined and that nothing had changed.

"I'm very concerned and very upset that I was not informed of this," Smith said. The judge's order was dated May 15.

The slayings

A jury found Ms. Laney, a then-43-year-old housewife who home-schooled her children, not guilty by reason of insanity for stoning her sons to death on Mother's Day weekend in 2003.

Joshua, 8, and Luke, 6, were found dead in the front yard of the family's New Chapel Hill home, and then 14-month-old Aaron was found seriously injured in his crib.

Ms. Laney's attorneys admitted during the trial that she stoned her children but contended that she was insane and did not know that what she was doing was wrong. Ms. Laney told authorities God told her to kill her children.

Under Texas law, people are found legally insane if, at the time of an offense, they did not know their conduct was wrong because of some mental illness or defect.

Ms. Laney was defended in trial by attorneys Files, Tonda Curry and LaJuanda Lacy, while Bingham, former First Assistant District Attorney Brett Harrison and current First Assistant District Attorney April Sikes prosecuted the case.

Staff Writer Kenneth Dean contributed to this report.


Texas woman who killed kids acquitted

USAToday.com

April 4, 2004

TYLER, Texas (AP) — A woman who claimed God ordered her to bash in the heads of her sons was acquitted of all charges by reason of insanity Saturday after a jury determined she did not know right from wrong during the killings.

A jury found that Deanna Laney was legally insane May 9 when she killed her two older sons, ages 6 and 8, in the front yard and left the youngest, now 2, maimed in his crib. Laney, 39, would have received an automatic life sentence had she been convicted of capital murder.

Laney broke into tears as the verdict was read. Her husband, Keith Laney, sat solemnly with his head down. A few jurors cried and struggled to maintain their composure.

State law allows Laney to be committed to a maximum security state hospital. Medical evaluations will dictate when she will be released. She will remain at the Smith County Jail until a hearing regarding her transfer.

Defense attorney Tonda Curry said the verdict doesn't mean Laney escaped punishment.

"Now and for the rest of her life, the punishment and torment that's going on in her own head is more significant and more damaging to her than anything the criminal justice system could have done, other than death," Curry said.

All five mental health experts consulted in the case, including two for the prosecution and one for the judge, concluded that a severe mental illness caused Laney to have psychotic delusions that rendered her incapable of knowing right from wrong during the killings — the standard in Texas for insanity.

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said had no regrets about taking the case to trial.

"This is a case that the citizens of this county needed to make the decision on," he said.

Jurors deliberated about seven hours before reaching their verdict in the deaths of 8-year-old Joshua and 6-year-old Luke, and the beating of Aaron. The baby was found bleeding in his crib while the other two were found with their skulls smashed in the front yard.

Defense attorneys argued that insanity was the only reason why a deeply religious mother who homeschooled her children would kill two of them and maim another without so much as a tear.

"There was no crying," Curry said. "She was insane. There is no other answer."

Psychiatrists testified that Laney believed she was divinely chosen by God — just as Mary was chosen to bear Christ — to kill her children as a test of faith and then serve as a witness after the world ended. In a videotape played at her trial, Laney said she saw her youngest son play with a spear, hold a rock and squeeze a frog, and took them all as signs from God that she should kill her children.

In closing arguments earlier Saturday, prosecutors portrayed the killings last Mother's Day weekend as deceptively planned and coldly executed.

"It was graphic, it was horrific and it was brutal," Bingham told the jury.

Bingham pounded his fist in his hand as he recounted Joshua's killing: "He got strike after strike after strike on his head to the point that his brains were coming out of his head like liquid."

Prosecutors said that even if Laney believed she was doing right by God, she had to have known she was doing wrong by state law. Her first call, they pointed out, was to 911 to summon authorities.

The 911 tape was among the evidence jurors reviewed during deliberations. Jurors also had asked for psychiatric testimony to resolve a disagreement over why Deanna Laney stopped beating Aaron, then 14 months old, but they reached a verdict before receiving the transcript.

Psychiatrists testified that Laney couldn't finish killing the baby, and that she told God, "You're just going to have to do the rest." Prosecutors said that action indicated Laney knew right from wrong and that if she chose to disobey God's orders by not killing Aaron, she could have disobeyed his orders to kill the other two.

Bingham said Aaron, who lives with his father, suffered permanent injuries in the attack.


Jury Weighs Case of Mom Who Killed 2 Sons

By Lisa Falkenberg, Associated Press Writer

April 3, 2004

TYLER, Texas - A jury on Saturday began deliberating whether a homemaker was insane when she used rocks to bludgeon two of her sons to death and severely injure a third after receiving what she claimed were orders from God.

Deanna Laney, sitting several feet away from a poster-sized portrait of her three children, wept uncontrollably as prosecutors portrayed the killings last Mother's Day weekend as deceptively planned and coldly executed.

"It was graphic, it was horrific and it was brutal," prosecutor Matt Bingham told the jury during closing arguments earlier Saturday.

Laney, 39, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder in the deaths of 8-year-old Joshua and 6-year-old Luke, and serious injury to a child for the beating of Aaron, now 2.

Bingham pounded his fist in his hand as he recounted Joshua's killing: "He got strike after strike after strike on his head to the point that his brains were coming out of his head like liquid."

Defense attorney Tonda Curry began her argument by asking the jury why a deeply religious woman known as a loving, devoted mother who homeschooled her children would kill two of her children and maim another without so much as a tear.

"There was no crying," Curry said. "She was insane. There is no other answer."

She recalled a tape of Laney calling 911 after midnight on May 10, calmly reporting the murders and directing authorities to her home.

"Do you remember that voice?" Curry asked the jurors, who sat solemn faced, some appearing pensive. "Have you ever heard a voice like that, so empty of emotion?"

About three hours into deliberations, the jury asked Judge Cynthia Kent for the 911 tape, the transcript of that call and the testimony of Laney's husband, Keith. The judge agreed to give jurors only the tape, saying the transcript had not been admitted as evidence and that jurors could review Keith Laney's testimony only if they cite a specific disagreement over it.

Curry stressed that five psychiatric experts, including one hired by the judge and two by the prosecution, concluded that a severe mental illness caused psychotic delusions and made Laney incapable of knowing right from wrong during the killings — the standard in Texas for insanity.

"We have five consistent medical opinions that say she's insane and none to the contrary," Curry said.

If Laney is found innocent by reason of insanity, she would be committed to a hospital for treatment. Medical evaluations would dictate when she would be released.

If convicted of capital murder, she would be sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 40 years. If convicted of serious injury to a child, a first-degree felony, the sentence could range from five years to 99 years or life.

Laney, who home-schooled her children in the tiny town of New Chapel Hill, 100 miles southeast of Dallas, was convinced she was divinely chosen by God to kill her children last Mother's Day weekend, psychiatrists testified.


Closing Arguments Begin in Texas Mother's Murder Trial

Deanna Laney Says God Ordered Her to Bludgeon Sons to Death

By Lisa Falkenberg, AP

April 3, 2004

TYLER, Texas (April 3) - Attorneys began their closing arguments Saturday morning in the trial of a homemaker who said God ordered her to use rocks to bludgeon two of her sons to death and severely injure a third.

Deanna Laney, sitting several feet away from a poster-sized portrait of her three children, wept uncontrollably as prosecutors portrayed the killings last Mother's Day weekend as deceptively planned and coldly executed.

"It was graphic, it was horrific and it was brutal,'' prosecutor Matt Bingham told the jury of eight men and four women.

Laney, 39, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder in the deaths of 8-year-old Joshua and 6-year-old Luke, and serious injury to a child for the beating of Aaron, now 2.

Bingham pounded his fist in his hand as he recounted Joshua's killing: "He got strike after strike after strike on his head to the point that his brains were coming out of his head like liquid.''

Defense attorney Tonda Curry began her argument by asking the jury why a deeply religious woman known as a loving, devoted mother who homeschooled her children would kill two of her children and maim another without so much as a tear.

"There was no crying,'' Curry said. "She was insane. There is no other answer.''

She recalled a tape of Laney calling 911 after midnight on May 10, calmly reporting the murders and directing authorities to her home.

"Do you remember that voice?'' Curry asked the jurors, who sat solemn faced, some appearing pensive. "Have you ever heard a voice like that, so empty of emotion?''

Curry stressed that five psychiatric experts, including one hired by the judge and two by the prosecution, concluded that a severe mental illness caused psychotic delusions and made Laney incapable of knowing right from wrong during the killings - the standard in Texas for insanity.

"We have five consistent medical opinions that say she's insane and none to the contrary,'' Curry said.

If Laney is found innocent by reason of insanity, she would be committed to a hospital for treatment. Medical evaluations would dictate when she would be released.

If convicted of capital murder, she would be sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 40 years. If convicted of serious injury to a child, a first-degree felony, the sentence could range from five years to life.

Laney, who home-schooled her children in the tiny town of New Chapel Hill, 100 miles southeast of Dallas, was convinced she was divinely chosen by God to kill her children last Mother's Day weekend, psychiatrists testified.


Doctor says mom who killed sons mentally ill

Prosecution witness at odds with government position

Msnbc.msn.com

March 31, 2004

A psychiatrist for the prosecution testified Wednesday that a mother who crushed her sons’ skulls with rocks was suffering from delusions and did not know right from wrong.

Dr. Park Dietz said Deanna Laney believed God ordered her to kill her children last Mother’s Day weekend. “She struggled over whether to obey God or to selfishly keep her children,” Dietz testified.

Laney, a 39-year-old stay-at-home mother who homeschooled her children, has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity to charges of capital murder and serious injury to a child in the deaths of 8-year-old Joshua and 6-year-old Luke and severe injury to then-14-month-old Aaron.

Dietz said that Laney, who is deeply religious, had a series of delusions on the day of the killings. He said she saw Aaron with a spear, then throwing a rock, then squeezing a frog and believed God was suggesting she should either stab, stone or strangle her children.

Laney at first resisted, but she felt she had to do what she perceived to be God’s will to prove her faith, he said.

“She told me she felt as if the Lord were saying ’If you keep rejecting, it’s going to keep getting worse,”’ Dietz said.

Although he testified for the prosecution, Dietz said Laney didn’t realize her actions were wrong, which means she was legally insane under Texas law.

Prosecutors contend that Laney did know right from wrong when she killed her children in the little town of New Chapel Hill, 100 miles southeast of Dallas. Prosecutors say other evidence suggests she was not insane, but they are not seeking the death penalty.

Two psychiatric experts for the defense, two for the prosecution and one for the judge all have said Laney was insane according to the legal definition. The defense was set to question Dietz when testimony resumed Wednesday.

Laney had delusions in which she would read everyday events or objects as messages from God. When her baby had abnormal bowel movements, for example, she thought it was a message from God that she was not properly “digesting” God’s word, Dietz said.

“To interpret what a baby leaves in his diaper reflects a mentally ill person,” Dietz said in testimony Tuesday.

Laney had at least one other psychotic experience several years earlier in which she had hallucinations of smelling sulfur she believed was God’s way of alerting her the devil was near, he said.

Also Tuesday, Laney’s husband testified that he saw no change in his wife’s mood before the attack and no clue that she was capable of killing the boys.

“I don’t understand it,” said Keith Laney, who has stood by his wife in court.

Keith Laney, 47, smiled at his wife when prosecutors asked what year they were married but briefly lost his composure at the sight of a poster-sized photograph of the three smiling boys, taken months before the killings.

The jury on Tuesday also saw a crime-scene video of 8-year-old Joshua and 6-year-old Luke, lying dead in a yard, near garden signs that read, “Mom’s Love Grows Here” and “Thank God for Mothers.” The boys were found in their underwear with heavy rocks on their chests.

The video also showed a large spot of blood in a baby bed, where Deanna Laney severely injured the couple’s youngest son, Aaron, 14 months old at the time.

Laney lowered her head during the testimony and wept as graphic autopsy photos were shown to the jury of eight men and four women.

Dietz has worked on other high-profile cases, including those of child killers Andrea Yates and Susan Smith, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski.

In Yates’ case, the Houston mother contended that Satan ordered her to kill her five children to save them from eternal damnation. Dietz concluded that Yates must have known murder was wrong if Satan ordered her to do it. He also saw Yates’ attempts to conceal her murder plans as a sign that she knew they were wrong.


Texas woman, Member of Assembly of God, says God Told her to Kill Sons

No decision on seeking death penalty, attorney says

CNN.com

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

TYLER, Texas (CNN) -- Whether authorities will seek the death penalty against a Texas woman accused of beating to death two of her three young sons has not been decided, according to the district attorney who will try the case.

Smith County D.A. Jack Skeen said he wants to wait until all the evidence is gathered before making that decision in the capital murder case of Deanna LaJune Laney, 38.

In Texas, a capital murder charge carries a punishment of either life in prison or death.

Laney made a brief court appearance Monday, in which a judge read aloud her rights and put her bail at $3 million, the district clerk said. Laney's court-appointed lawyer, F.R. "Buck" Files, advised her to stand silent.

Files said he was simply being cautious because his client has not yet had a mental examination -- the results of which could be key to her defense.

"We have such uncommon allegations against her that it raises, for anyone who's ever been in the system, questions of sanity and competence," he said.

Laney has been acting erratically in her jail cell, the sheriff said.

"She goes from a fetal position of crying, to walking around the cell singing gospel music. She stops and prays, then she goes into a crying hysteria," Smith County Sheriff J. B. Smith said. "She all of a sudden realizes what she's done, then she'll go into a flatline, blank stare."

Laney is under a suicide watch, according to The Associated Press.

In addition to capital murder, authorities said, a charge of aggravated assault is also pending in connection with the beating of Laney's third son, Aaron, 14 months old, who was found bloodied under a pillow in his crib early Saturday. Aaron was in critical condition Monday at Children's Medical Center of Dallas.

Smith said Laney's 8- and 6-year-old sons, who died, were "severely beaten in the head with what appeared to be a rock." He said Laney told authorities that God told her to kill her children.

Sheriff: Laney told 911 dispatcher 'I've killed my boys'

After the killings, Laney made a 911 call on her cellular phone and spoke in a "very calm, matter-of-fact way." She told a dispatcher, "I've killed my boys," Smith said.

A sheriff's department spokeswoman said deputies arrived at the New Chapel Hill home, about seven miles outside of Tyler, at 12:52 a.m. Saturday.

When officers arrived, they entered the house and found Aaron in his crib, wounded but still breathing. Laney was not there but continued to talk calmly on the phone, Smith said.

Officers found the woman, wearing bloody clothes, in a wooded area about 100 yards behind her house, the sheriff said.

Laney described where her other two children could be found but refused to go there herself, he said.

Her husband was apparently asleep inside the house during the attack because he came walking out "in his nightclothes," the sheriff said.

The recording of the 911 call is in the hands of the district attorney, who said he doesn't plan to release it publicly.

"In any case like this, the incoming 911 tape is very important," Skeen said, "because it contains the initial obvious statements of the defendant."

Smith said the Laneys were a "very stable, loving family" and that the suspect has no history of mental illness.

Similarities to Yates case

[Ednote: They were both members of churches, Laney Assembly of God and Yates The Church of Christ.]

Two years ago, another Texas woman, Andrea Yates, drowned her five children while suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis. She told authorities that Satan told her to kill the children. Despite a documented history of mental illness, a jury rejected her plea of innocent by reason of insanity and convicted her of murder. Yates was sentenced to life in prison but will be eligible for parole in 40 years.

Attorneys on both sides are aware of the similarities to that case.

"Whether or not we use some of Andrea Yates in our case, I cannot tell you," Files said. "Obviously, anyone who looks at Andrea Yates and looks at this case would draw some comparisons, just at first blush."

Files said he has "no doubt" Laney can receive a fair trial in Tyler, the Smith County seat, but said media coverage of the case could pose problems.

Laney sang in the choir at the First Assembly of God Church, where her brother-in-law, Gary Bell, is the pastor, according to The Associated Press.

"This was a brutal and horrific incident that has changed our lives [and will] for years to come," Bell said during a service Sunday. "But we all believe as a family that this wasn't our Dee that did this to her children."

Neighbors, too, were at a loss to explain what went wrong.

"There's no way in the world that I would believe she would do this without something taking over her and something snapping in her," a neighbor said.

"It is absolutely devastating to the neighborhood," he said.


Murder by God's Command

No one thought there was something wrong with thirty-nine-year-old Deanna Laney on Mother's Day weekend in 2003.  That's why they could not have predicted what she was about to do.

A housewife in New Chapel Hill, Texas who saw herself as a religious sister to Andrea Yates, the housewife who drowned her five children in 2001, Laney began to see "signs."  Her fourteen-month-old son, Aaron, was playing with a spear.  That was the first signal from God that she was to do something to her children.

She resisted, not certain that she understood.  But the signs continued.

The case was broadcast on Court TV, and covered by newspapers, television talk shows nationwide and by Internet Web sites.

When Aaron presented Laney with a rock that day, she later reported that she believed she was supposed to pay attention.  This was a symbol.  Later that same day, he squeezed a frog.  Then she understood.  She was to kill her children, either by stoning them, strangling them or stabbing them.  God had shown her three ways.

Again she told God no, but again she felt pressured to comply.  "Each time it was getting worse and worse," she later said, "the way it had to be done."  In other words, the more she resisted, the worse the death would be for her children.  She decided that rocks would be preferable to strangulation, so she found some in preparation.

Laney knew she had to "step out in faith."  She had to trust God, and she believed that God would use her brutal deed to do something great.  He had done such things in the Bible.  Then when Laney woke up before midnight on May 9, she knew that the time was at hand.  She had already hidden a rock in Aaron's room, so she went there first.

Lifting the rock, she hit Aaron hard on the skull.  He began to cry, alerting her husband, Keith.  He asked what was wrong and Laney kept her back to him to prevent him from seeing what she was doing.  She assured Keith that everything was okay.   But it wasn't okay.  Aaron was still breathing, so she put a pillow over his face until she heard him gurgle.  She silently told God that He would have to finish the job.

Next Laney went after her other two sons.   She took Luke, 6, outside first in his underwear and smashed his skull by hitting him repeatedly with a large rock.  Then she dragged him by the feet into the shadows so that Joshua, 8, would not see him.  She left the stone, the size of a dinner plate, lying on top of him. 

Joshua was next and Laney repeated to him what she had done with Luke, placing them together in a dark area of the yard.

Afterward, she called 911 to report, "I killed my boys."

When the police came, they found Aaron still alive.  He was taken away and it eventually became clear that both his vision and motor skills were severely impaired.

Outside, the police saw Laney standing still in blood-stained clothes.  She indicated where she had left the boys and they found the bodies lying beneath large rocks.  Both boys had serious head wounds.  Laney was arrested, leaving her bewildered, horrified husband to wonder what had happened.

Parallels

Laney's case had many parallels with that of Andrea Yates.  Both women lived in Texas and home-schooled their children.  Both were deeply religious.  Both felt they had no choice but to do what they did to their children.  Both called 911.  And both had some of the same psychiatrists assessing their states of mind for their trials.  Five experts came into the case for Laney, including Dr. Philip Resnick, who had served on Andrea Yates' defense team, and Dr. Park Dietz, who was hired by the prosecutor.

But Laney's 2004 trial unfolded quite differently.

While the defense psychiatrists had no trouble testifying that Laney had been delusional and psychotic at the time of the crime and could not appreciate that what she was doing was wrong, the surprise came with the prosecution's expert, Dr. Park Dietz.   He had been instrumental in convincing a jury that despite her terrible history of mental illness Andrea Yates had known that what she was doing was wrong and thus she was sane when she murdered her children.  In the Laney case, he surprised everyone by saying the opposite.

From his assessment, he decided that Laney did not know that what she was doing was wrong.  She believed she was following God's orders.  She admitted that she might have been aware that what she had done was illegal, but she was not thinking about that.  She imagined that she and Andrea Yates, who also had started with the youngest, would together be the two witnesses when the world came to an end.

"She struggled over whether to obey God or to selfishly keep her children," Dietz testified.  His impression was that she had felt she had no choice.

Another psychiatrist for the prosecution, Dr. Edward Gripon, agreed that the presence of mental illness was obvious.  Several of the experts thought that Laney had suffered from an undiagnosed psychosis over the past three years.

One more expert witness was Dr. William Reed, a court-appointed psychiatrist who used the word "crazy" to refer to Laney, and he agreed with the others.

Among the evidence they used was Laney's post-crime demeanor.  Six days after the attacks, she was calm as she described for psychiatrists what she had done.  There were no tears.  She was awaiting her children's resurrections.  With a smile, she said that because she had obeyed God, "I feel like he will reveal his power and they will be raised up.  They will become alive again."  Dr. Resnick said that since she did not believe she had carried out God's orders perfectly—she wasn't certain about Aaron--she lapped up water from the floor and from a toilet bowl.

After getting antipsychotic medication, she eventually saw her acts in a different light and showed remorse.  She realized with horror that she had suffered from a hallucination that had triggered her acts.

Laney's sister, Pam Sepmoree, testified that Laney had been acting strangely in the days leading up to the murders.  She was losing weight, eating less, and reading her Bible more.  Sepmoree said that the boys were her sister's life.

Despite this unprecedented agreement among all the psychiatrists, prosecutors nevertheless presented a case against Laney that certain behaviors indicated sanity.   She had said that she believed that her husband would think her acts were wrong, so she tried to keep Aaron's cries from alerting him.  She had called 911 to turn herself in.  And she had told a jailer that she might need an attorney.  In addition, Laney had no documented history of mental illness, only self-reported episodes: delusions about her baby's feces and a hallucination of smelling sulpher, which she associated with the devil.

Jurors got the case on the afternoon of April 3, and it took them seven hours that same day to acquit Laney of all charges by reason of insanity.  She was transferred to a maximum security hospital where medical evaluations will determine when she can eventually be released.

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