Deanna Laney Found Not Guilty - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

04/03/04 - Tyler

Deanna Laney Found Not Guilty

After five days of video tapes, audio tapes, and sometimes heated testimony, both the state and the defense have rested. The case against Deanna Laney, accused of stoning her three children, killing two of them, will now move to closing arguments.

The defense opened arguments today with testimony from Dr. William Reid. He is the fifth and final psychiatrist to interview Laney, having been hired by Judge Cynthia Kent to do so this past January. He offered little to no testimony that jurors haven't already heard, and for the defense, that's exactly the point.

"There is better consistency among [the psychiatrists who interviewed Laney]," said Reid, "That is, our agreement is better than I have ever seen in a matter such as this that has come to trial."

The insanity defense, which the defense must prove with a preponderance of evidence, is based on two prongs in the Texas Penal Code. Section 8.01 of the code states, one, at the time of the conduct charged, the actor suffered from a severe mental disease or defect. And two, as a result, did not know that her conduct was wrong. The defense made a point to address both prongs of this argument once again this morning with Dr. Reid.

"Did you find any evidence that would support any other explanation for her behavior, other than the fact that she was insane?" asked defense attorney Tonda Curry.

"No," answered Reid.

"Is it your opinion sir that at the time she committed these acts, Mrs. Laney's severe mental disease made her incapable of knowing her acts were wrong?" asked Curry.

"That's a very good way to put it," answered Reid. "She not only did not know that her conduct was wrong, she was incapable of knowing her conduct was wrong."

The prosecution used the day to attack the second prong of the penal code, pressing Dr. Reid on whether Laney knew that killing her children was wrong. They struck a chord with Laney, and may have with the jury, when asking Dr. Reid about the brutality of the crime.

"From the standpoint of the boys, they were certainly brutal," answered Reid. "I don't believe that Ms. Laney intended to be brutal with her children, but, the actions, by any standard, that's a brutal way to die. I hope that they were instantly unconscious."

Dr. Reid's testimony concluded early this afternoon, and with it, so did the cases against Deanna Laney.

"Both the state and the defense have rested and closed evidence in the case. That means all the evidence in these cases is now before you," Judge Kent told the jury.

Lead defense attorney Buck Files presented a defense motion after the jury was gone this afternoon, stating the state offered no evidence against the insanity defense, and requested that Judge Kent rule Laney not guilty by reason of insanity. Judge Kent denied the motion, saying she will leave that decision in the hands of the jury. Judge Kent has prepared the charges against Laney. Those charges give the jury clear instructions on what to rule on. She will read those to the jury tomorrow morning at 8:30. Both the state and the defense will get an hour and twenty minutes for closing, putting the fate of Deanna Laney into the hands of the jury by lunchtime.

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