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Question of the Day
A woman whose 2-year-old daughter was thrown to her death from a mall’s sixth-floor pedestrian bridge sobbed through angry, agonized testimony Wednesday at the trial of her mother, who’s charged with murdering the girl.
Prosecutors say the 50-year-old Mrs. dela Rosa killed her granddaughter Angelyn out of lingering hatred for her son-in-law for getting her daughter pregnant out of wedlock. Defense lawyers, meanwhile, argue that Mrs. dela Rosa suffered from severe depression and was legally insane at the time of the Nov. 29 death.
Mrs. Ogdoc, 23, told jurors she did not actually see Mrs. dela Rosa scoop Angelyn up and toss her over the railing, but she witnessed the immediate aftermath, with Mrs. dela Rosa’s arms extended over the side and Angelyn nowhere to be seen. Mrs. Ogdoc said she had been walking ahead of the two after the family ate dinner at Tysons Corner Center, the state’s largest shopping mall.
Mrs. Ogdoc ran down the six flights of stairs to her daughter, then looked up to the bridge between the mall and a parking deck to see her mother staring down, blank and impassive.
During Wednesday’s testimony, Mrs. Ogdoc read a birthday card she received from her mother on her 21st birthday, in which Mrs. dela Rosa wrote “I feel very betrayed and disappointed with what you have done” by getting pregnant.
Mrs. Ogdoc’s testimony came a day after the jury heard a videotaped confession from Mrs. dela Rosa to detectives in which she said she tossed Angelyn off the bridge primarily to exact revenge on her son-in-law, whom she blamed for breaking up her own family. Mrs. Dela Rosa also acknowledged harboring jealousy toward Angelyn for stealing the family’s love away from her. The jury also saw surveillance video showing Mrs. dela Rosa deliberately tossing the girl off the 45-foot walkway.
The first defense witness was Mrs. dela Rosa’s husband, Leandro dela Rosa, who described his wife’s bouts with depression over the years. He said the illness got worse in the months before Angelyn’s death, including two suicide attempts. After the second attempt, in which Mrs. dela Rosa drove off the road down a steep hill in the Shenandoah mountains, Mrs. dela Rosa spent several days at a psychiatric hospital in Winchester. But Mr. dela Rosa said he never received a “strong recommendation” that his wife be hospitalized long term, and she was enrolled in outpatient therapy instead.
In the days leading up to the Nov. 29 killing, Mrs. dela Rosa became even more withdrawn, going days without bathing until prompted by family members and refusing to get on a plane to the Philippines for her brother’s funeral, even after they had bought the tickets. Mr. dela Rosa said his wife would take hours to respond to questions or make simple decisions, and became hysterical when he would leave for work because she did not want to be alone. Once she hid the car keys, and once she pulled a knife on him as he tried to leave the house, he said.
Mrs. Dela Rosa faces up to life in prison. The defense expects to call a series of health professionals Thursday to talk about Mrs. dela Rosa’s mental illness. The prosecution’s mental-health expert, who has not yet testified, does not believe Mrs. dela Rosa was legally insane, a standard that requires a defendant either be incapable of distinguishing right from wrong or be incapable of understanding the nature and consequence of their actions.
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