Defense Expert Presents Essential Elements for Insanity Defense in Tysons Toddler Trial - NBC4 Washington

Defense Expert Presents Essential Elements for Insanity Defense in Tysons Toddler Trial



    The defense called a psychologist to testify as an expert in the trial of Carmela Dela Rosa, the woman accused of killing her granddaughter. (Sketches by Bill Hennessy.) (Published Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011)

    Carmela dela Rosa couldn't distinguish between right and wrong and did not understand the consequences of her actions when she when she threw her 2-year-old granddaughter, Angelyn Ogdoc, off a Tysons Corner mall elevated walkway Nov. 29, concluded defense expert Michael Hendricks, a psychologist hired to evaluate the defendant. While he didn't declare dela Rosa insane, he laid out the elements essential for an insanity defense under Virginia law.

    Hendricks spent two days with dela Rosa last February, more than two months after she was jailed and charged with murder in her granddaughter’s death. He diagnosed her with recurrent major depressive disorder with psychotic features.

    "She was often slow to respond," Hendricks testified about the interview. "She spoke softly. Sometimes she didn't give me any response. It was almost like she couldn’t form the words."

    Hendricks testified dela Rosa's deteriorating mental health last fall, including two suicide attempts in the months before the Tysons incident, led her to experience a type of psychosis that night. She believed her family was isolating her and secretly communicating to each other with special eye gestures. He also testified the defendant became hyper-focused on her son-in-law, James Ogdoc, whom she'd long blamed for getting her daughter pregnant before the couple married.

    "She was getting more and more focused on her anger toward James and began thinking about Angelyn as looking more like James and hurting Angelyn as a way of getting back at him," Hendricks said.

    He said Dela Rosa told him she first considered throwing Angelyn off the walkway as she watched the little girl play with the mall's electronic door, but something held her back. Later, as the family left the mall, she acted.

    Hendricks said he was surprised "when I asked her what she intended to happen to Angelyn and she replied she hadn't intended her to get hurt at all."

    Hendricks was also asked about dela Rosa's videotaped confession, in which she matter-of-factly described the crime to detectives. Her demeanor indicates dela Rosa was still in a delusional state, Hendricks said.

    In cross examination, prosecutor Ray Morrogh suggested Hendricks had changed his diagnosis since his original report.  Said Morrogh,

    "Delusions were never mentioned," Morrogh said.

    Hendricks agreed.

    “So you're not saying she had any delusions on Nov. 29?” Morrogh asked.

    "No overt delusions,” Hendricks replied.

    "And no hallucinations?” Morrogh asked.

    "No," Hendricks said.

    Morrogh repeatedly challenged Hendricks’s conclusion that dela Rosa didn't understand the consequence of dropping Angelyn.

    "Isn't it true that her letting her husband go ahead of her provides guidance that she knew she was about to do something wrong and didn't want to be stopped?" Morrogh asked.

    "Not that she didn't want to be stopped,” Hendricks said. “She contemplated what she was about to do,"

    "She was capable of understanding the consequences of throwing the baby off?" Morrogh pressed.

    "I don't think that she was capable of understanding the consequences because of her constricted thinking," Hendricks said.

    "Don't a lot of people who do bad things not consider the consequences?" the prosecutor asked.

    "Sure," the witness said.

    Morrogh also took aim at Hendricks’s finding that dela Rosa didn't know right from wrong at the time of the incident.

    "She told the police she knew wrong from right?" he asked.

    "Yes," Hendricks answered.

    Testimony will conclude tomorrow and closing arguments are expected.

    Carmela dela Rosa will not take the stand.