First Expert Testifies on Laney's Mental State - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03/29/04 - Tyler

First Expert Testifies on Laney's Mental State

"She had capacity to form intent to bring the rock down on a human."

But did Deanna Laney really know what she was doing was wrong. Forensic psychologist Dr. Park Dietz has testified to mental health in notorious cases -- John Hinckley, the Unabomber, the D.C. Snipers.

Tuesday, he told the jury his opinion of Deanna Laney last May 10th.

Dietz: "I concluded that she suffered from a severe mental disease and that she did not know her conduct at the time of the offenses was wrong."

That opinion is backed by bizarre delusions and strange behavior.

"When (youngest son) Aaron babbled baby talk, that gave her the belief when she spoke in tongues at church he understands her," he said. 

Going back at least three years, Laney had several episodes of strange smells.

"Most of the time, the smell she perceived was that of sulfur. And she interpreted the meaning of that smell as being the presence of the Devil."

Including during her time in jail. It stopped with proper medication. Laney told Dietz she felt several of her family members would die in a car crash.  She told her church God had told her to get her affairs in order. And she told the psychologist she believes she was one of two people mentioned in the Book of Revelation, who would witness for Christ in the end times.

She and another mother who killed her children.

"And she also thought in 2003 and at the time of the crimes that she and Andrea Yates had been chosen by God to be the two witnesses in the last days," she says.

Dietz told the jury it's not evil that caused the delusions, but a sickness.

"They are about a mental illness that is causing her to misinterpret reality," he said.

Three more experts are to take the stand in the coming days.

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