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Jury hears closing arguments over child thrown off walkway
Question of the Day
It was hate and revenge — not insanity — that drove a Virginia woman to toss her 2-year-old granddaughter to her death from a sixth-level pedestrian bridge at the state's largest shopping mall, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Jurors heard closing arguments Wednesday in the murder trial of 50-year-old Carmela dela Rosa of Fairfax, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the death of Angelyn Ogdoc last November.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh told jurors it would be natural to think that Mrs. dela Rosa must have been crazy to toss her only grandchild off the skywalk at Tysons Corner Center after a dinner outing to the mall's food court. But the facts tell a different story, Mr. Morrogh said.
He argued that Mrs. dela Rosa was motivated by anger at her son-in-law for getting her daughter pregnant out of wedlock, and became enraged when she thought that he intruded on the mall outing by calling his wife on her cell phone. During the trial, jurors saw a videotaped confession in which Mrs. dela Rosa she said she hated James Ogdoc and saw killing Angelyn as a way to hurt him.
"A trial is the search for truth. And sometimes the truth is very, very ugly," Mr. Morrogh said.
Defense lawyers argued that Mrs. dela Rosa suffered from such severe depression that she could not distinguish right from wrong. Public defender Dawn Butorac cited a series of mental health professionals who diagnosed Mrs. dela Rosa with major depressive disorder that became more intense over the last decade, culminating in multiple suicide attempts in the months before Angelyn's death.
"By all accounts she was a completely different person when she was afflicted with major depression," Ms. Butorac told the jury.
But the prosecution's mental health expert said Mrs. dela Rosa's real problem was not mental illness but anger at her family for defying her wishes.
The trial's final witness, prosecution expert and psychologist Stanton Samenow, said he saw no evidence that Mrs. dela Rosa suffered hallucinations or delusions. Instead, he said, she was consumed by undying anger not only at her son-in-law, but also at her daughter and even at Angelyn for stealing all of the family's love from her.
Mr. Samenow was appointed by the judge to conduct the insanity evaluation for prosecutors over the objection of defense attorneys, who argued that Mr. Samenow's history shows a bias in favor of prosecutors.
Mr. Samenow testified that he has done roughly a dozen insanity evaluations over the years, almost always testifying for the government and almost always disputing a finding of insanity.
He told jurors that Mrs. dela Rosa was "angry, uncompromising, unforgiving and difficult."
In particular, he said Mrs. dela Rosa "detested" her son-in-law, James Ogdoc, and never forgave him or her daughter, Mary Kathlyn Ogdoc.
"She felt betrayed," he said. "This anger and sense of betrayal lasted indefinitely. It didn't go away."
Mr. Samenow did not dispute the findings of other doctors who concluded that dela Rosa had a major depressive order, but said his own diagnosis was that of a borderline personality disorder.
Regardless of any diagnosis, Mr. Samenow concluded that dela Rosa's real problem was not any mental illness, but that she was a hateful person who reacted badly when things went against her.
"There is a lot of hate in this woman," he said.
Jurors will begin deliberations Thursday. To find Mrs. dela Rosa not guilty by reason of insanity, they must conclude unanimously by a preponderance of the evidence that either Mrs. dela Rosa could not distinguish right from wrong or did not appreciate the nature or consequences of her actions.
If convicted, Mrs. dela Rosa faces up to life in prison.
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