Guilty Verdict In Carmela Dela Rosa Murder Trial; Grandmother Accused Of Tossing, Killing Granddaughter

8:51 AM, Oct 7, 2011   |    comments
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FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA) -- "No parent should ever have to bury their child," James Ogdoc said. "No parent should have to lose their child under any circumstance."

Emotions ran high during the sentencing phase of Carmela dela Rosa, the Virginia grandmother convicted of first degree murder for throwing her 2-year-old granddaughter off an elevated pedestrian bridge in November 2010.

"She'll never be able to start kindergarten. It's hard to watch the kids going back to school," Mary Ogdoc, the mother of toddler Angelyn Ogdoc, said. "She doesn't have those milestones." 

After an 8 day trial trial and over 7 hours of deliberation, the jury entered the courtroom around 4 p.m. Thursday and found dela Rosa guilty of first degree murder. 

Jury members were told over the past few days that dela Rosa was angry, and severely depressed. But they had to decide whether she was insane when she killed her granddaughter.

The jury rejected the defense's claim that dela Rosa was insane Thursday when she threw Angelyn off the 45-foot skywalk at Tysons Corner Center.

The jury recommended that dela Rosa spend 35 years in prison.

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Her actions were unthinkable -- a grandmother throwing her two-year-old granddaughter off a 45-foot high pedestrian bridge at the Tysons Corner Mall. But did 50-year-old Carmela Dela Rosa do it because she was in a psychotic state and didn't understand what she was doing?

During closing arguments Wednesday, her defense attorney said, "We live in a world where people are afflicted with mental illness. She didn't CHOOSE to get a mental illness. She was afflicted."

The defense attorney added, "She's always been thoughtful, loving and giving by nature to her family."

Will the jury believe that explanation or the commonwealth's attorney, who said "She was basically angry at the world. I told you we were going to look into the darkest part of the human mind- and we did." ?

The commonwealth's attorney said, "When things did not go her way, she cuts off the problem, and in this case, she threw the problem off the bridge."

The prosecution's rebuttal witness, psychologist Dr. Stanton Samenow, testified, "There is no evidence she wasn't connected to reality. My opinion is she was able to appreciate the consequences of her actions when she threw the granchild over the railing.... she knew it was wrong. She knew right from wrong."

Samenow diagnosed Dela Rosa with borderline personality disorder, which filled her with anger, and resentment toward her family members.

He said, "She simply did not get along with members of her family. She was a woman who wanted things on her terms, and when things did not go her way, she was angry. Life was not going the way she wanted it to go."

Dela Rosa has already pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Defense lawyers argued Wednesday that dela Rosa's depression was so severe she couldn't distinguish right from wrong. Prosecutors said hate and revenge drove 50-year-old dela Rosa to toss 2-year-old Angelyn Ogdoc to her death. Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh said dela Rosa was angry at her son-in-law for getting her daughter pregnant out of wedlock.

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Tuesday's expert witness in the Carmela dela Rosa murder trial said the grandmother did not understand the nature of what she was doing when she tossed her grandchild over a 45-foot high bridge on November 29th at Tyson's Corner mall.  

Board certified clinical psychologist Dr. Michael Hendricks  diagnosed dela Rosa with major depressive disorder, episodic, which means her severe depression comes in episodes.  Last fall, he said,  was her worst one yet.   Dr. Hendricks described her suicide attempts and said each one made her a greater risk for another.

Public Defender Dawn Butorac asked Dr. Hendricks, "When someone attempts suicide, what does that mean?" 

He said, "It means that their mental illness is not getting better; it's probably getting worse."

Dr. Hendricks said someone in a major depressive episode can have psychotic and delusional thoughts.

In the video taped interview with detectives the night of the incident, dela Rosa said she felt her family had a secret language that they used against her.  Dr. Hendricks said that was delusional thinking.

He said so was her thinking about what would happen to Angelyn by her actions.   

Dr. Hendricks said, "She said she hadn't intended to hurt Angelyn. She did not understand what would happen if she did this. She did not know right from wrong. My conclusion is that she was so stuck in very constrictive thoughts that it never occurred to her at all, the issue of right and wrong."

Earlier in the trial, the defense tried painting a picture of a severely disturbed woman whose mental state was spiralling out of control.

They're trying to prove the woman didn't know what she was doing when she tossed her grandchild off a high walk way at Tyson's Corner.

Prosecutor Ray Morrogh, who comes across as very polite and agreeable, took a hard stand against one defense witness today.

It was a neighbor of dela Rosa who talked about an encounter she had in which she felt dela Rosa wasn't making sense. Morrogh raised his voice and said sternly, "We're not interested in what you felt or thought... we're interested in what you heard."

But dela Rosa's good friend, Analiza Castilon, was more certain about what she heard her friend say.

Carmela dela Rosa loved her granddaughter Angelyn and used 3 nicknames for her; G-baby, lovey and "the Love." But the friend also said last fall dela Rosa became so troubled, she considered suicide.

"She blamed herself for the mess her family was in. The finances.By ending her life, she thought everything would be OK," said Analiza Castilon, a friend of dela Rosa.

In late September, 2 months before dela Rosa threw Angelyn off the Tysons's sky bridge, she drove her mini van off Skyline drive. She survived with an injury. A park ranger read a suicide note they found: "I am so sorry for all the wrong I have done. From the bottom of my heart I love you."

Around the same time, neighbor who asked dela Rosa a question said,  "It was not a cohesive answer. She looked into space and was very mumbly. I don't think she completely understood what I was saying."

Rosa's psychologist dr. Jeanne Marquis whom she had seen since 2001, said that last fall. After two suicide attempts that

"She continued to be severely depressed and was spiralling down. She had never displayed this type of behavior before... She was very fragile, very ill. Not coping well at all," said Dr. Jeanne Marquis, a clinical psychologist.

Morrogh asked Marquis if she had ever diagnosed dela Rosa as psychotic or bi-polar, and she said, "no."

The jury has seen graphic evidence of her alleged crime, including the video surveillance that shows her throwing her granddaughter  off the 45-foot high pedestrian bridge at Tyson's Corner on November 29, 2010.

Two year old Angelyn Ogdoc died in the hospital the next morning.

The jury watched as the baby's  23 year old parents sobbed on the witness stand recounting the horrific incident.

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.

Dela Rosa is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. Testimony about her mental illness and suicide attempts came from several doctors. Psychiatrist Dr. Faisal Awadelkarim says her major depression could have easily clouded her judgement.

But to prove insanity, the defense must show she didn't know what she was doing at the time of the event,  and that will be difficult because of all the evidence in the case, says former Commonwealth's attorney Bob Horan.

"There's so much factual evidence concerning the actual behavior.   I had dozens of insanity defenses when I was a  prosecutor.   Every one of them, there was factual evidence out there to show that the person knew what they were doing," said Horan.

In testimony Thursday, doctors said Carmela dela Rosa had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and had four suicide attempts last year.  She was hospitalized last year after one attempt and tried to kill herself two months before throwing her granddaughter Angelyn Ogdoc off the bridge.

A cousin testified that 50-year-old dela Rosa said she wanted to kill herself to spare her family pain. A friend of dela Rosa said she became depressed and suicidal when her daughter got pregnant.

Last november, dela Rosa's brother died, and her depression resurfaced.  Long time friend Susan Bugay said she called her a few days before the baby was killed and said Dela Rosa was
confused, erratic and strange on the telephone.

After Angelyn Ogdoc was killed, a jail clinical psychologist saw dela Rosa.  He said he  found it odd she  urinated in front of two male police officers.

Dr. Colleen Martin, another psychologist who saw dela Rosa after the incident said, "She didn't seem to have a clear understanding of why she was there and what was going on around her."

But Bob Horan doesn't buy it.  He said,  "Lots of people are depressed.  The law doesn't say if you're depressed you can kill somebody.  The law says you've got to be depressed to the point where you don't right from wrong.  You don't know the nature of what it is you're doing," says Horan, who faced numerous insanity defenses in his 40 years as the chief prosecutor in Fairfax County. 

A psychologist recommended dela Rosa be treated in a partial hospitalization day treatment center. Her co-pay would have been $100 a day.  She and husband declined the treatment.

Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond Morrogh says  dela Rosa was motivated by anger at her son-in-law for getting her daughter pregnant out of wedlock.  They rested their case Wednesday after testimony from the dela Rosa's daughter, who sobbed while describing the aftermath of two-year-old Angelyn's fall.

CATCH UP ON THE CASE: Grandmother Accused Of Killing 2-Year-Old Granddaughter

Dela Rosa has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
She faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Written by Peggy Fox

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