Day Three Of Deanna Laney Trial - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03/31/04 - Tyler

Day Three Of Deanna Laney Trial

The prosecution has rested. District Attorney Matt Bingham concluded the state's case against Deanna Laney with more testimony from psychiatrists, and a tape of Laney herself talking about stoning her three children, killing two of them. Just before and right after the taped confession was presented to the jury, the prosecution brought to the stand forensic psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz. He is the doctor who interviewed Laney in the video tape played today. He spent all morning explaining each aspect of the days leading up to the stoning, and the acts themselves, trying to paint a picture of just what was going through Deanna Laney's mind.

"In a series of experiences she came to believe God told her to kill her children," Dietz said. "She was able to give detailed information on how god told her to kill her children."

That detailed information was shown in a nearly hour long video tape of Dietz interview with Laney. It was the jury's first chance to hear from laney herself. While the video played for the jury, Laney sat staring into her lap, quietly crying. After the tape, lead defense attorney Buck Files tried to drill home the point that Dr. Dietz has never waivered in his findings.

"Do you have an opinion as to whether or not on may 10, 2003 that Deanna Laney, did not know that her conduct was wrong?" Files asked.

"I do have an opinion," answered Dietz.

"What is that opinion?" asked Files.

"It's my opinion at that time, because of her severe mental disease, Mrs. Laney did not know that her conduct was wrong," concluded Dietz.

Despite the fact that Dr. Dietz was hired by prosecutors for this case, District Attorney Matt Bingham almost seemed to spar with him a little on his answers.

"So then your conclusions are absolute?" Bingham asked. "She was absolutely insane?"

"Whether she was insane is for the jury to determine," answered Dietz.

"The point is, here's a lady that's killed two of her kids and injured a third. You cannot sit on that stand and say absolutely that she did not know her conduct was wrong," commented Bingham. "You can say in your opinion, but not absolute."

"It is my opinion," answered Dietz."

The day concluded with testimony from Dr. Edward Gripond, another state's witness who interviewed Laney. Like Dr. Dietz, Dr. Gripond believes Laney killed her children under the direction of God. And, like with Dr. Dietz, prosecutors are trying to instill doubt in jurors' minds over the absolute nature of the doctor's findings. That doubt is needed to get any verdict other than not guilty by reason of insanity. The defense will begin presenting their case tomorrow morning. Buck Files said he will probably need more than a day. Which means, the case could be in the hands of the jury by Friday evening.

Kevin Berns, reporting.

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