Longtime Laney Counselor Believes Verdict is Just - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

04/06/04 - Tyler

Longtime Laney Counselor Believes Verdict is Just

Some were pleased with the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, while others were outraged and want Deanna Laney to go to prison. A Tyler professional counselor who evaluated Laney many times feels the verdict Saturday was just and the right thing to do.

Wade French: "She could tell you the things that she'd done without shedding a tear."

Wade French believes Laney was insane. And he believes she doesn't need prison, but help.

"There was no doubt in my mind that she had no understanding and appreciation of what had happened. She knew what she did, but she truly believed it was for the right reason," he said.

French has spoken to Laney 35 times -- evaluating her in the ten months she has been in the Smith County lockup.

"You're always going to have some people who are sick like this, we don't know what causes it, we have a pretty good idea of how to manage it," he says. 

At the Vernon State Hospital, French says Laney will get the treatment she deserves. She'll never be cured, but her psychosis -- those delusions -- can be prevented with medication.

French: "This is not a garden variety case, natuarally because of the consequences that happened. And you want to be very careful this doesn't happen again."

For that he thinks Laney's stay in the maximum security hospital won't be short. But he says keep her locked up when doctors say she's no longer a danger to herself or someone else.

"They would have no reason to keep her. This woman is not a criminal. It's not like they're thinking about paroling her from prison or anything like that," he says.

Laney was acquitted -- though by her insanity. She will have no criminal record though two boys are dead, one maimed for life. French says society should understand mental illness, and not just seek retribution.

"And she's a person with a medical problem and she's going for treatment."

Many have wondered if Deanna Laney will ever get to see her son Aaron, whom she badly injured. He's disabled for life. French says it's difficult to say if the two will ever meet for a long time. Doctors could determine it's not helpful in treatment, and Child Protective Services could also keep a meeting from happening.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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