PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – When Laurel Schlemmer walked into the courtroom Friday, she whispered to some folks in the crowd “pray for me.”
Both the defense and prosecution each brought in their own experts, two psychiatrists who spoke about Laurel Schlemmer’s mental health issues. While they agree on several things, what they don’t agree on is whether or not Schlemmer had a diminished mental capacity when she formed the intent to kill her children.
“I’ve seen individuals kill their children but I can’t say I’ve seen it like this,” psychiatrist Dr. Bruce Wright said.
Dr. Wright, a psychiatrist, was brought in by the prosecution to testify during day three of Laurel Schlemmer’s trial.
Dr. Wright said that despite Schlemmer’s history of anxiety and depression, he believes she had the mental capacity to commit the deliberate, pre-meditated acts of sitting on and drowning 6-year-old Daniel and 3-year-old Luke in the bathtub, then disposing of her wet clothes, then calling 911.
“Her behavior and statements that she wanted to make this look like an accident. That she decided she was going to send her children to a better place, this was a deliberate act. It was irrational, it doesn’t make sense but it was a deliberate act,” Wright said.
The defense brought in forensic psychiatrist Dr. Robert Wettstein who spoke at the beginning of Friday’s trial.
Dr. Wettstein referenced records he obtained from Torrance State Hospital, where Schlemmer had been staying. He said she had a history of anxiety and depression and strongly believed that Daniel and Luke were autistic and would never grow up to be normal adults and felt they were better off in heaven. The boys were never found to have autism.
Dr. Wettstein came to the conclusion that Schlemmer had a substantially diminished ability to premeditate and deliberate even though she was aware of the killings.
“The guidelines are they capable of forming the intent to kill that’s what the judge has to decide,” Wright said.
Judge Jeffrey Manning will announce the verdict Thursday at 11 a.m.
During closing arguments, the prosecution stated they would like to see Schlemmer convicted of two counts of Homicide while the defense is trying to avoid a first-degree murder conviction and convince the judge she didn’t have the mental capacity to form the intent to kill.