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Was the grandmother insane who killed her grandaughter?

Regular Guy

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This incident from last fall in the DC metro area has just today gone to the jury to decide. I think it's gotten a fair amount of attention here. I'd say there was "water-cooler" talk, except that I may have initiated it.

Carmela Dela Rosa dropped her grandaughter from a skywalk last fall in a large shopping center (Tyson's Corner).

At my office today, when my friends and I talked about it, I think we reflected on the same questions the jury were asked to reflect on when they were selected. If she did this, could that have been the definition of insanity? Or, could it have been revenge against the son in law.

A recent article is here:

http://wusa9.com/news/article/16915...her-Accused-Of-Tossing-Killing-Granddaughter-

To me, a substantive and probably determinative part was here:

And jurors saw the chilling video-taped interview with dela Rosa hours after the baby's fall. She's calm, and coherent as she acknowledge what she did and shows no remorse. She says she never liked her son-in-law because he got her 19 year daughter pregnant, and thinks she threw his baby off the bridge to hurt him.
But, I understand the case will not be a slam dunk; that they deliberated today, and will continue tomorrow...


Ira Z
 

MissGotRocks

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It's hard to believe that anyone could destroy a two year old child that they supposedly loved to exact revenge on someone. However, if the jury believes that she did just that and planned it, an insanity finding would be hard to come by.

Either way, this is a clearly disturbed person. I'm just glad that I'm not on the jury having to make this call.
 

AGBF

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You know what, Ira? I don't know exactly what is wrong with the grandmother, but whatever it is, she reminds me of my daughter. Which is why I don't want my daughter ever to have children. When I read of all the suicide attempts she made, I could have wept. She is clearly mentally ill. I wish someone could have rescued that poor, innocent two-year old. I could just sit here and cry all day about the tragedy of life.

Deb/AGBF
:read:
 

dragonfly411

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I firmly believe that someone who has the ability to take another human life, and show no remorse, no sorrow, no sadness about doing it has something wrong. Something is not programmed right with that person. We are not meant to be cannibalistic animals. We have too much sympathy. Soldiers are haunted by the people they kill, because they feel remorse, and sadness, and guilt. Doctors who lose patients, they carry on, but each loss nicks a little bit out of them. If you can coldly destroy a life, and not feel remorse, then to me, you are not hardwired correctly. Even if it is not a declared mental illness, something has made you that cold. So yes, I think she was insane, in the sense that she is able to coldly kill someone. Was she insane to a point that she could not pre-meditate and control her actions to cause a murder, but acted on some second personality or instinct? That I'm not sure of. The human mind has so many levels, so many nooks and crannies and hidden rooms. It may be impossible to really ever know 100% for sure what is running through a killer's mind.
 

Circe

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I think you would have to be insane to do what she did: I also think that she should be punished for her actions, and prevented from ever doing any harm to anyone again.

Unfortunately, in the eyes of the legal system, my two suppositions are at odds.

Personally, I don't care whether someone is "in their right mind" when they commit a heinous act. They have committed it, and demonstrated the fact that they might do so again, under the wrong circumstances. It's the results that matter, not the reasoning.
 

ame

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I don't think she's remotely "insane". She was of sound mind when she did that. I think she's person who couldn't grow to love a child that had anything to do with its father and she did it on purpose to get that person completely out of her life. I think she was perfectly sane. I just think she's a self-centered jerk who resorted to murder to seemingly rid herself of the problem, exact revenge on someone for what she perceived as ruining her and her daughter's lives, and thought she'd get away with it by claiming insanity. She's sick, but she's not insane.
 

AGBF

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Circe|1317910870|3034540 said:
I think you would have to be insane to do what she did: I also think that she should be punished for her actions, and prevented from ever doing any harm to anyone again.

Unfortunately, in the eyes of the legal system, my two suppositions are at odds.

Personally, I don't care whether someone is "in their right mind" when they commit a heinous act. They have committed it, and demonstrated the fact that they might do so again, under the wrong circumstances. It's the results that matter, not the reasoning.
There's no need to punish someone for something beyond his control. Simply place him somewhere where he cannot-ever-do it again. And there is no need for that place to be unpleasant or a punitive environment. This idea is not mine. I will have to look up the psychiatrist who wrote about it years ago.

AGBF
:read:
 

AGBF

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ame|1317911849|3034559 said:
I don't think she's remotely "insane". She was of sound mind when she did that. I think she's person who couldn't grow to love a child that had anything to do with its father and she did it on purpose to get that person completely out of her life. I think she was perfectly sane. I just think she's a self-centered jerk who resorted to murder to seemingly rid herself of the problem, exact revenge on someone for what she perceived as ruining her and her daughter's lives, and thought she'd get away with it by claiming insanity. She's sick, but she's not insane.
You examined her on the scene?

Deb
:read:
 

maplefemme

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One could say that anyone who commits a heinous crime is insane, anything that defies "normal" societal behavior; there's an excuse for it. What happened to accountability for one's actions? She wasn't someone who has been institutionalized for psychotic behavior in all of her 50 years, no previous history that's convincing to me of "insanity".
She tried commiting suicide and suffered depression, well many people have attempted suicide, over 36000 people in the US every year commit suicide, that doesn't include the numbers of people who tried and failed. Over half the population is depressed.
She admitted she believes she possibly did this to hurt the child's Father.

These cases kill me. We had a local teen girl who was found guilty of first degree murder of her parents and brother, killed them in cold blood because her parents didnt like her boyfriend. She got 4 years in a psychiatric institution and now she's attending my local university, free as a bird.

I dont see justice these days, I don't see accountability, I see apathy.
You can literally get away with murder....
 

Tuckins1

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Mental illness or not, she killed that baby. Period. She needs jail time. She should have some sort of treatment too, but she should not be allowed to be in society where she could have the opportunity to hurt anyone else. Just my opinion.
 

Circe

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AGBF|1317912087|3034560 said:
Circe|1317910870|3034540 said:
I think you would have to be insane to do what she did: I also think that she should be punished for her actions, and prevented from ever doing any harm to anyone again.

Unfortunately, in the eyes of the legal system, my two suppositions are at odds.

Personally, I don't care whether someone is "in their right mind" when they commit a heinous act. They have committed it, and demonstrated the fact that they might do so again, under the wrong circumstances. It's the results that matter, not the reasoning.
There's no need to punish someone for something beyond his control. Simply place him somewhere where he cannot-ever-do it again. And there is no need for that place to be unpleasant or a punitive environment. This idea is not mine. I will have to look up the psychiatrist who wrote about it years ago.

AGBF
:read:

"Need" and need ... on that, we'll have to agree to disagree. I don't want to torture the woman, but neither do I want her operating in free society where she could do harm again, nor enjoying a higher standard of living than the numerous people on our streets who have not murdered babies in horrific fashion. Given that society defines confinement as punitive, and places lacking cable "unpleasant" ... well, yeah, there is.

But that doesn't actually address the question. Do you think the woman should get off scot-free, spend time in a mental facility (probably indefinitely, as BPD is not considered treatable), or spend time in prison? Not combative, just curious about your take on this situation.
 

AGBF

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Tuckins1|1317912531|3034564 said:
Mental illness or not, she killed that baby. Period. She needs jail time. She should have some sort of treatment too, but she should not be allowed to be in society where she could have the opportunity to hurt anyone else. Just my opinion.
Maybe she needs jail time. Or maybe she should just be placed in a benign environment like a Holiday Inn, at the State's expense, and not be allowed out again. That was the suggestion of the psychiatrist I was invoking above. It would be cheaper than putting someone on Death Row and fairer. Why punish her for things she cannot control and will never be able to change? Just don't let her harm anyone else ever again.

AGBF
:read:
 

AGBF

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Circe|1317912888|3034572 said:
Do you think the woman should get off scot-free, spend time in a mental facility (probably indefinitely, as BPD is not considered treatable), or spend time in prison? Not combative, just curious about your take on this situation.
Knowing only what I know now, if I had a totally free hand with this, I'd construct the kind of facility the psychiatrist I quoted described: benign and secure. I'd lock her up in it and let her watch television; have nutritious meals; play games; sleep on a decent bed (a Holiday Inn type bed); and be unable to harm anyone else again. If you call that, "getting off scot-free" because she isn't in prison, yes, she'd get off scot-free. But she'd never be free again and society would remain safe from her.

Deb/AGBF
:read:
 

Circe

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AGBF|1317913620|3034580 said:
Circe|1317912888|3034572 said:
Do you think the woman should get off scot-free, spend time in a mental facility (probably indefinitely, as BPD is not considered treatable), or spend time in prison? Not combative, just curious about your take on this situation.
Knowing only what I know now, if I had a totally free hand with this, I'd construct the kind of facility the psychiatrist I quoted described: benign and secure. I'd lock her up in it and let her watch television; have nutritious meals; play games; sleep on a decent bed (a Holiday Inn type bed); and be unable to harm anyone else again. If you call that, "getting off scot-free" because she isn't in prison, yes, she'd get off scot-free. But she'd never be free again and society would remain safe from her.

Deb/AGBF
:read:
... well, okay. In an ideal world, that sounds nice: I imagine we'd also have similar facilities, but with the bonus of freedom and the option of self-improvement for our numerous homeless and poverty-stricken. But since we can't provide that for all members of our society, and since the criminals of the world wouldn't be my first place to start with reform, definitely an agree-to-disagree type of situation.

But, hypotheticals aside, what you're describing is prison. While you may not like our prison system, which has never been known for the quality of its bedding, you're still saying that society needs to be protected from unpredictable people. When I said "scot-free," I meant free, as in as-a-bird, as in, not imprisoned.
 

packrat

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Takes a cold cold person to do what she did. Was she in control at that point in time? Ame didn't examine her on scene to know, but..who did? Anyone? If she can say "Yep, I threw my own flesh and blood off a bridge, a helpless child who loved me and was completely dependent on me and I don't care one fig about it"..then WOW. I don't see that as insane. I see that as a cold sociopath who knew full well what she was doing and took it out on a poor helpless child to get back at her son in law. That's the definition of a waste of oxygen to me. Depraved in her heart, that one.
 

y2kitty

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AGBF|1317913087|3034575 said:
Tuckins1|1317912531|3034564 said:
Mental illness or not, she killed that baby. Period. She needs jail time. She should have some sort of treatment too, but she should not be allowed to be in society where she could have the opportunity to hurt anyone else. Just my opinion.
Maybe she needs jail time. Or maybe she should just be placed in a benign environment like a Holiday Inn, at the State's expense, and not be allowed out again. That was the suggestion of the psychiatrist I was invoking above. It would be cheaper than putting someone on Death Row and fairer. Why punish her for things she cannot control and will never be able to change? Just don't let her harm anyone else ever again.

AGBF
:read:
Really?
 

packrat

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Give criminals and sociopaths the Holiday Inn and I think you'd see a rash of crime from the homeless who sleep on park benches and have shanty towns under bridges..military vets who fought for our country and are tossed to the side, people who lost their jobs and are living in their cars. I'd be happier seeing them at the Holiday Inn, personally, over someone who killed their grandchild in cold blood. They would be a little more productive, methinks, going out and trying to get a job and be a productive member of society, just people who need a damn *break* in their lives, than people who have no soul whiling away their days watching tv and eating the three squares that a lot of children living in poverty don't get.
 

makemepretty

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She needs to be in a mental institution for the rest of her life. Insane is such a broad word but she is a danger to people and society and will always be.

I don't think people understand that mentally ill people can have perfectly normal days and normal feelings but then just not be sane the next day. Unless you've dealt with someone who's like this, you can't even fathom that. I'm sure the parents of that little girl never thought the grandmother would harm her, that she in fact, loved her. I'm sure she did but that's the problem, mentally ill people do not think like normal people. I also don't believe that medication will cure a mentally ill person. It will help sometimes with some of the delusions but they will never ever be cured.
 

Matata

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packrat|1317914714|3034593 said:
I don't see that as insane. I see that as a cold sociopath who knew full well what she was doing and took it out on a poor helpless child to get back at her son in law. That's the definition of a waste of oxygen to me. Depraved in her heart, that one.
Sociopaths & psychopaths are classified as people with mental disorders. Insanity can be broadly defined as abnormal behavioral or mental patterns so in terms of a legal defense for mental incapacity, she could qualify. The fact that she killed a child lends an emotional factor
that may cloud impartiality.
 

ame

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packrat|1317914714|3034593 said:
Takes a cold cold person to do what she did. Was she in control at that point in time? Ame didn't examine her on scene to know, but..who did? Anyone? If she can say "Yep, I threw my own flesh and blood off a bridge, a helpless child who loved me and was completely dependent on me and I don't care one fig about it"..then WOW. I don't see that as insane. I see that as a cold sociopath who knew full well what she was doing and took it out on a poor helpless child to get back at her son in law. That's the definition of a waste of oxygen to me. Depraved in her heart, that one.
Very well said.

I guess by reading her post, I can assume that Deb must have examined her at the scene because to say such a thing, she acts as though she knows better than anyone else does.
 

AGBF

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ame|1317918925|3034645 said:
I guess by reading her post, I can assume that Deb must have examined her at the scene because to say such a thing, she acts as though she knows better than anyone else does.
I'm not the one who made a pronouncement about her sanity or lack of it! As a licensed mental health professional, I never do that without examining someone in person.

And I expect you know what is said about people who, "assume".

AGBF
:read:
 

TooPatient

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maplefemme|1317912518|3034563 said:
One could say that anyone who commits a heinous crime is insane, anything that defies "normal" societal behavior; there's an excuse for it. What happened to accountability for one's actions? She wasn't someone who has been institutionalized for psychotic behavior in all of her 50 years, no previous history that's convincing to me of "insanity".
She tried commiting suicide and suffered depression, well many people have attempted suicide, over 36000 people in the US every year commit suicide, that doesn't include the numbers of people who tried and failed. Over half the population is depressed.
She admitted she believes she possibly did this to hurt the child's Father.

These cases kill me. We had a local teen girl who was found guilty of first degree murder of her parents and brother, killed them in cold blood because her parents didnt like her boyfriend. She got 4 years in a psychiatric institution and now she's attending my local university, free as a bird.

I dont see justice these days, I don't see accountability, I see apathy.
You can literally get away with murder....
Very well put.

No, she was not and is not insane. She is one of those twisted people who just can't live by the standards and morals of our society.
 

lyra

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I agree with Deb on most of these issues.

Didn't anyone read the part where in-patient treatment was suggested to her but she and her husband couldn't afford the $100 per day co-pay? She is mentally ill. She will detach from reality and come back to it in episodes. She needed treatment, her friends saw the need, and she couldn't afford proper care. The people around her also failed her. Why was she even alone with the baby? She had attempted suicide. She should have been watched. She should go to a mental institution not prison.
 

Matata

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This is probably straying off topic into philosophical ideals but I want to believe (because it helps make the the world more palatable for me) that there are two overarching reasons why people commit heinous crimes:

1. they are insane by medical/legal definition (sociopath, psychopath, schizophrenic, whatever); or,
2. they are "normal" by our societal standards but driven by something (a single incident or a series of incidents) that temporarily cause them to lose control (or go temporarily insane).

Several people have referred to this woman as "twisted" rather than "insane." For me, they are similar if not identical. As far as accountability -- if one is convicted of a crime by reason of insanity, being confined in an institution for awhile or forever is, imho, being held accountable. Serving time in prison is being held accountable. People who have been released from an institution or prison have, by our societal standards, been held accountable (which is not the same, again imho, as being forgiven) and are free to try to rebuild their lives.

I'll admit that my pendulum wildly swings both ways regarding those who commit heinous crimes. I am always waging an inner war -- one side says they should be culled from the herd and the other side reminds me that a human being, no matter how disgusting I find his or her behavior, should not be denied compassion and forgiveness. I doubt I'll ever be able to reconcile those feelings.
 

galeteia

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lyra|1317922045|3034684 said:
The people around her also failed her. Why was she even alone with the baby? She had attempted suicide. She should have been watched.
:errrr: Yeah not the best idea for a babysitter. They shouldn't have left her alone with herself, if she had an untreated mental illness, let alone with a baby.
 

partgypsy

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I find the story so disturbing, not just from the terrible act, but that neighbors and friends saw her acting strange and saying unintelligible things, that she tried to kill herself (she even left a suicide note) and there was absolutely no intervention! It's not just the grandmother's fault there is a dead toddler, but everyone around her who didn't get her help. If anything, it should point out the number of people with mental ilnesses who are walking around with absolutely no medical care because it is "too inconvenient" or "too expensive". Most people who have mental illness are not dangerous, but they can be because they are separated from reality.

As far as the legal issue of "insanity" I can't really comment. I don't know how a legal definition jives with say an psychiatric (Axis I) definition. Both Manic depression (bipolar I) and severe depression are Axis 1 (severe mental illnesses) where you can have a psychotic break where you are really not connected with reality. Saying that her family had a secret language that they were talking about her sounds like paranoia. But this is supposition. Like what AGBF the call has to come from someone who can evaluate the person at the time, because you can go in and out of psychosis. And is it true, if she is treated and comes out of psychosis and does understand her actions, she can be tried at that time, correct?

I don't think the answer is to just lock her away. If it is due to a mental illness that treatable with medication.
 

Pandora II

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Both my and DH's families have numerous individuals with varying degrees of mental illness.

Having seen my SMIL a few years ago get sectioned over Christmas when she had lost it completely - threatened the next-door neighbours with a knife, cooked dinner for 50 (only 5 people were coming) and be arrested several times for violent behaviour in the run-up - and seeing what a completely normal individual she is today on treatment, I know that mental illness can utterly change someone in character, behaviour, judgement, affections, every sphere of life.

Yet to many, my SMIL appeared normal - she successfully convinced staff in the psychiatric department that she worked there and was using the room as a temporary office... they even moved a desk in for her - but to us she was totally nuts.

I've just finished reading a very interesting book on Victorian Broadmoor - Broadmoor being the asylum for the criminally insane in the UK. The founders believed in protecting society from lunatics with criminal tendencies, but also in providing a secure and not unpleasant environment where they might be treated and perhaps rehabilitated as opposed to prison where it was a case of both punishing and protecting.

From what I have read of the case - which is not a huge amount - my feelings are that she would probably fulfill the criteria for insanity.

What happened to the little girl was truly horrific - my daughter is exactly the same age so I feel more sickened than I usually would be - but I don't think the grandmother carried out a premeditated attack or was in control of her faculties at the time.

It's a very sad thing - and surely not cost-effective - that getting proper treatment for mental health issues in the USA depends on whether or not you can afford it. If doctors felt that she needed to be treated in a hospital setting then there was probably a very good reason for it and that little girl might still be alive today.

Ditto with the Andrea Yates case - she was let out of hospital because the money ran out, not because she was well enough to go home. It's just nuts: your wife is very sick, shouldn't be left alone for a minute and really needs to be here, but because you can't afford it we'll just send her home - but hey, we'll happily pick up the multi-million dollar cost of a big murder trial and the costs of incarceration. Not exactly joined-up thinking.

I find it pretty sick and would put a significant share of the responsibility in these cases at the doors of the healthcare providers (or should that be non-providers).
 

Regular Guy

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looks like this story has garnered interest here with my friends, as it had with me.

In the interest of transparency, rather than of halting discussion, I thought I would share an update.

The grandmother in this story was, today, found guilty, with the jury recommending 35 years.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/l...oddlers-Death-at-Tysons-Corner-131262754.html

Sentencing will happen in January. Apparently she can get less time, but not more.


Ira Z.
 
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