do you think that god would ask you to kill your own three, innocent children???
do you think she is guilty? ( i do shes crazy and should be put away forever)
Homemade pictures and photographs of three smiling boys were displayed on the refrigerator door. Two of the boys lay dead in the front yard; the other lay in his crib - his life forever changed.
An hourlong video of the crime scene where Deanna LaJune Laney, 39, killed two of her sons and seriously injured a third was shown to jurors Tuesday in her capital murder trial.
The family's nice three-bedroom house sits on five acres of land, just outside of New Chapel Hill.
Fourteen-month-old Aaron Laney, now 2, was first. Mrs. Laney took him from his crib and bashed him on the head with a 4-pound rock she had stashed earlier.
Keith Laney was awakened from his son Aaron's screams after the boy was hit on the head. He entered the dark bedroom and saw his wife leaning over him and assumed she was changing his diaper. After she said, "Everything's OK," he returned to bed, he testified.
Then one-by-one, she led Luke, 6, and Joshua, 8, from their beds into a rock garden in the front yard, instructed them to lie down and struck their heads with heavy rocks. She killed the boys in the same spot, dragging Luke into a darkened part of the yard about 60 feet away before stoning Joshua. Aaron's blood was found on Luke's ankles, Smith County sheriff's office crime scene Investigator Noel Martin testified, and Joshua had Luke's blood on his back.
Smudges of Aaron's and Luke's blood also were found in Luke and Joshua's bedroom, he testified.
The two older boys died in the late hours of May 9 or the early hours of May 10, 2003, just a day before Mother's Day. Aaron spent weeks in a hospital and is still recovering. He suffers visual impairment and will never be self-sufficient, Acting Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said.
Later that night, Mrs. Laney called 911 and in a tranquil voice told a dispatcher she had killed her boys - something she just had to do because God told her to.
The video showed what Martin saw as he first approached the Laney's house and yard. The neat and tidy house contrasted Aaron's room, where toys scattered across the floor were splattered with his blood.
Dr. Sheila Spotswood, a forensic pathologist at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas, performed the autopsy on Luke and supervised Joshua's.
The state showed gruesome photographs of the examinations as the defendant hung her head and kept her eyes lowered. Family members looked away while the boys' father, Keith Laney, lowered his head and wiped his eyes at times.
Dr. Spotswood said Joshua's body had suffered at least eight blows from the 16-pound rock found atop his body. Luke had fractures to the left and right side of his skull, as well as a pattern of fractures to the base of his skull, Dr. Spotswood said. He also suffered "deep, crushing, gaping lacerations" and open skull fractures.
She said the boys' wounds required tremendous force, would have been very painful and were intentionally inflicted.
Joshua began to struggle with his mother after he suffered the first blow to his head. She placed her knees on his arms and resumed beating him until he no longer put up a fight, Bingham said.
Bloody foam that escaped Luke's nose led Dr. Spotswood to believe he was breathing after he had suffered the blows to his head and neck, although she could not speculate for how long.
Lead defense counsel F.R. "Buck" Files Jr. and attorneys Tonda Curry and LaJuanda Lacy are defending Mrs. Laney, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Doctors hired by the state and defense who individually evaluated Mrs. Laney are expected to testify she was insane at the time of the killings.
If found not guilty by reason of insanity, she would be evaluated for 30 days at a state mental facility. Doctors would recommend what type of treatment, if any, they thought she needed.
Mrs. Laney's fate would ultimately be in the hands of 114th District Judge Cynthia Kent, who would decide if Mrs. Laney received out patient or inpatient care and for how long. She could be placed in a mental facility for life.
The state's team, made up of Bingham, First Assistant DA Brett Harrison and Chief Felony Prosecutor April Sikes, is not seeking the death penalty in the case.
The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday morning.
Casey Knaupp covers state and federal courts. She can be reached at 903.596.6289. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
©Tyler Morning Telegraph 2004