Day Four Of Deanna Laney Testimony Concludes - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

04/01/04 - Tyler

Day Four Of Deanna Laney Testimony Concludes

It was a day of hostile questioning, and more video of Deanna Laney.  As the defense opened its case today, they continued their effort to show Laney did not know right from wrong when she stoned her three children, killing two of them. The Laney jurors saw today, was not the same Deanna Laney they've seen in court, or the Deanna Laney they saw yesterday.  Yesterday, they saw an emotional Laney, struggling to come to grips with the idea that she was responsible for the death of her kids.  It was a Deanna Laney on medication, seven months after the stonings.  Today, jurors saw a Laney interviewed six days after the stonings on no medication.  She explained how she killed her kids in a matter-of-fact tone, absent of emotion.  Laney's husband Keith was noticeably shaken by what he saw today. Dr. Resnick was asked to explain how someone could seem so indifferent in explaining how she killed her children.

"At this point she stiill believes that she's carried out a divine command, a diefic decry, that God is still with her, that she's done the right thing," said Resnick, "and so she's not in mourning, she's not showing remorse, because at this point, she still dillusionally believes she has done what's right. So rather than simply as it being a tragedy, as all of us see it as today, she still sees it as doing what is right by the Lord, and in that sense, it's not a reason to show the kind of tearfull remorse that you saw when she described the same events to Dr. Dietz several months later."

When prosecution took over questioning of Dr. Resnick, the temperature in the room began to rise, as Assistant District Attorney April Sykes seemed quite hostile.

"How about when she then put the rock on his chest, to suffocate him?" Sykes asked.

"How about it?" Resnick answered.

"How about it?" Sykes commented back.

"What's your question?" asked Resnick.

"It's brutal," shot back Sykes with a raised voice.  "You said this wasn't a brutal crime, that this was, the woman was kind, and I'm asking you how can you say she was kind to these three children. I don't see a kind thing in it. Show me where it is."

That hostility continued when Sykes began asking about what is dillusional and what isn't. At one point, Sykes gave an example from her life, talking about her deceased grandmother's love for red birds and how her grandmother helped her make hard decisions.

"I pray the prayer and I say, I really would like a sign," said Sykes.  "I really wish I could talk to my grandmother, and if I see this red bird go by and I think, isn't that great, God's talking to me. He sent me a sign, it's the right decision. Am I having a dillusion?"

"I'd rather not comment on your mental health," answered Resnick.

That line of questioning continued most of the afternoon, as prosecutors continued their stradegy of isolating certain incidents surrounding the events, trying to instill doubt in jurors minds and show that anything is possible. Laney's sister, Pam Sepmoree took the stand into the evening, saying some weight loss was the only change she noticed in Laney leading up to the stonings. Sepmoree was also asked if she thought Laney was sane or insane.

"I believe... I believe Dee is... I believe she is very sick and insane to do this," Sepmoree said through tears.

A little weight loss was all church friend Gina Drew noticed as well.  Lawyers wrapped up questions with her around 7:30 this evening, as ten and a half hours of testimony finally came to a close. Buck files said he expects to wrap up his case Friday afternoon. Judge Cynthia Kent was non-committal when pressed for a decision on whether or not the jury will hear closing arguments before the weekend.

Kevin Berns reporting.

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