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Doctors: Baby Arm-Slicing Mom Mentally OK

A woman who killed her 10-month-old daughter by cutting off her arms with a kitchen knife is being released from the state mental hospital where she'd been sent after being found not guilty by reason of insanity, authorities said.

Dena Schlosser, 39, will be released within the next month into outpatient treatment because her doctors believe she's mentally stable, Collin County prosecutor Curtis Howard said. A court order issued after a hearing Thursday found "convincing evidence" that her needs and the "safety of the community" can be met with outpatient services.

The order requires her to see a psychiatrist once a week, take medication, be on a phsycian-approved birth control and not have any unsupervised contact with children.

"She's still under the court's authority at this point," Howard said. "Right now that's indefinite. If she violates any of those orders or provisions, the court can revoke its order and send her back to the inpatient facility until some further date."

Schlosser was arrested in November 2004 after she told a 911 operator she had severed her baby's arms. Police found her soaked in blood, holding a kitchen knife and listening to a hymn as Maggie lay dying in her crib.

Schlosser testified at trial that she killed the baby because she wanted to give her to God. Her first trial ended with a hung jury. In 2006 she was sent to a state mental hospital after being found not guilty by reason of insanity, and her mental status has been reviewed annually to see if she's stable enough for release.

She was committed to the mental hospital because she posed a danger to herself and others.

Howard, the lead prosecutor in both capital murder trials, disagreed with Schlosser's release.

"It was our position that she should remain, but the problem is that based upon the commitment scheme the court is working under, he's got to base his decision on mental health officials and their recommendations," Howard said.

"This is the way we deal with mental health patients who have been found not guilty by reason of insanity," he said. "I believe that needs to be looked at; it needs to be changed by the Legislature. But that's the system we currently operate under and this is the result."

In June, Schlosser notified the court in a letter that "my current mental health needs can be adequately met by community services and that I am no longer in need of institutionalized care."

A superintendent at Rusk State Hospital in East Texas, where Schlosser had been living, said he couldn't confirm she was there Friday.

It is unclear where Schlosser will live when she gets out. She is prevented from seeing her two surviving daughters, who were 6 and 9 at the time of the slayings, according to the terms of her 2007 divorce. Efforts to locate a phone listing for her ex-husband were unsuccessful Friday. Her defense attorney didn't immediately return calls Friday.

Several Texas child slayings at the hands of their mothers have involved mental illness.

Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the family's Houston bathtub in 2001. In 2003, Deanna Laney beat her two young sons to death with rocks and injured a third in East Texas. Lisa Ann Diaz drowned her two daughters in a Plano bathtub.

All those women were found innocent by reason of insanity and sent to state mental hospitals. Yates initially was convicted of capital murder, but that verdict was overturned.

Next week will mark the two-year anniversary of the release of Diaz, who was a patient in a state mental hospital for about three years.

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