PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A prosecutor says a McCandless woman accused of drowning her two young sons in a bathtub had tried to kill the boys before.
Laurel Schlemmer, 43, was very emotional as testimony got underway during day one of her non-jury trial. Thirteen witnesses were questioned by the assistant district attorney, while the defense only cross-examined a few of them.
A recording of the 911 call made by Schlemmer after the incident was also played.
Dispatch: “Allegheny County 911. What is the address of emergency?”
Schlemmer: “My two sons, I think they’ve drowned in the bathtub.”
That call was made on April 1, 2014. Schlemmer called 911 to tell dispatchers that she found her 6-year-old son, Daniel, and his 3-year-old brother, Luke, unconscious in the bathtub when she came back from using the bathroom, which she said took longer than expected.
Dispatch: “Are they completely alert?”
Schlemmer: “They’re unconscious.”
Dispatch: “Are they breathing?”
Schlemmer: “It doesn’t look like it, sir.”
The 911 call was played when Witness 1 testified in court Wednesday.
The boys died after they drowned in the bathtub in their McCandless home.
Investigators say Schlemmer later admitted to police what really happened when she was questioned at Allegheny County Police headquarters.
“These crazy voices were prompting me to act irrationally, and I changed clothes and got in there with them and held them under water,” Schlemmer told police.
She said she dropped her 7-year-old son, Joshua, off to get the school bus after her husband went to work, then went back inside to attend to the other boys.
The assistant district attorney also asked witnesses about prior incidents involving Schlemmer.
One incident happened in September 2009. Schlemmer plead guilty after leaving her son inside what police say was a 112 degree car in the Ross Park Mall parking lot.
In April of 2013, officials say Schlemmer backed into Daniel and Luke in the driveway of her parents’ home. CYF later determined this was accidental.
Judge Jeffrey Manning decided to lift the gag order that was in place since there’s no jury to determine Schlemmer’s fate.
Schlemmer’s attorney didn’t make an opening statement. But in a pretrial discussion with the judge, he made clear that he’ll try to prove Schlemmer was insane or operating under diminished mental capacity.
Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pellegrini will continue testimony Thursday. Day two of Schlemmer’s trial begins at the Allegheny County Courthouse at 10:30 a.m.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)