- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 14, 2006

McKINNEY, Texas (AP) — A woman accused of killing her 10-month-old daughter by cutting off the baby’s arms with a kitchen knife went on trial yesterday after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

Police say they found Dena Schlosser, 37, covered in blood in her kitchen, still holding a knife and listening to a church hymn.

During opening statements, her attorney said Mrs. Schlosser clearly did not know right from wrong during the November 2004 slaying of baby Margaret.

“This is somebody who at the time was not capable of knowing what she was doing was wrong,” defense attorney William Schultz said. “She didn’t see it coming. … Normally, Dena is a sweet woman. She cares; she has compassion.”

Prosecutor Curtis Howard disagreed, saying that although Mrs. Schlosser obviously had mental problems, she did know right from wrong when she killed her daughter.

“At some point that morning, Dena Schlosser put Maggie Schlosser down on the bed and cut off her arms,” he said.

The first witness was Steve Edwards, the 911 operator who took Mrs. Schlosser’s call. In a tape of the conversation, Mrs. Schlosser could be heard calmly describing her actions. When Mr. Edwards asked her whether there was an emergency, she responded, “Yes.”

“Exactly what happened?” Mr. Edwards asked.

“I cut her arms off,” Mrs. Schlosser replied as a hymn played in the background.

“You cut her arms off?” he repeated.

“Uh-huh,” she answered.

As the tape played, Mrs. Schlosser slumped in her chair and pressed her chin into her chest, staring down at her hands.

She was diagnosed with manic depression after her arrest. In February 2005, a jury deliberated only a few minutes before deciding that Mrs. Schlosser was mentally incompetent to stand trial, and she was committed to the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon. But in May, a judge decided Mrs. Schlosser was competent.

Her two surviving daughters, ages 6 and 9, are in their father’s custody.

Mrs. Schlosser had been accused of child neglect in the months before Margaret’s death, but a state investigation found she did not pose a risk to the baby or her other daughters.

The state’s troubled Child Protective Services came under intense scrutiny after several high-profile child abuse deaths, including the Schlosser case.

The Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees CPS, laid out more than 160 recommendations last year to overhaul the agency.

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