A East Texas woman makes another appearance in court to face the charges she murdered two of her children, and tried to kill a third.
Why did it happen? East Texans that knew Deanna Laney are wondering if there were any signs that they missed. Any way they could have forseen what was to come.
The story begins late Saturday night, when, in what has been described as a calm, almost childlike voice, Laney reportedly told a 9-1-1 operator she'd smashed her sons' heads with rocks.
Police found two boys, a six year old, and an eight year old, bludgeoned to death in the front yard. A fourteen month-old son was also attacked, and lay bleeding in his crib while his father slept in the next room. 38-year-old Deanna Laney, the mother of the three boys was arrested... she remains in Smith County custody on a 24-hour suicide watch.
The national media is descending on Tyler, and Monday, Judge Cynthia Kent issued a restrictive order about what police and lawyers can say about this case, also, where the media can take pictures. She says it's not a gag order, because officials can speak about certain facts of the case. And they did just that in a press conference that followed a twenty minute proceeding in a very quiet courtroom.
The eyes of the nation are just opening on this tragedy in East Texas. Deanna Laney walked into the courtroom, looking drained and pale. Judge Cynthia Kent told her of her rights, once again.
Her attorney is now at her side for this second early hearing, as a previous judge said she looked confused. So today, well known defense counsel Buck Files was asked by Judge Kent herself to take on the case. Files said he didn't know of Laney's competency, so he wanted her to stay silent, not say she understood all of her rights. Finally she did say a short, silent "Yes."
Buck Files said, "I do not know what her mental state is."
He met with reporters, as did Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith, and District Attorney Jack Skeen. Skeen says a restrictive order put in place keeps him from revealing all reporters want to know, but there is no way he can determine if will seek the death penalty.
Skeen: "It's too early to decide on the death penalty."
Sheriff smith says for the East Texas community, this is difficult, especially for his officers.
A for the media onslaught, Buck Files had this to say: "It's got to be a slow news day for all of you to be in Tyler, Texas."
The next step in the legal process will be for the information collected by the District Attorney and law enforcement to go to the Grand Jury. There is no time frame for that, but Judge Kent believes a trial would last two to three weeks.
Late this afternoon, we learned that prominent Tyler Professional Counselor Wade French has been retained by the Laney defense.