PITTSBURGH (AP) — A woman charged with drowning her two youngest sons in a bathtub had days earlier told her husband she wanted to surrender to police for purposely running over the boys the year before, but her husband talked her out of it, he testified at her trial.
"Isn't it true she told you she tied them up with twine and ran them over repeatedly?" Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pellegrini asked the husband, Mark Schlemmer.
"I remember she told me she tied them up, but I don't remember her saying she ran them over repeatedly," he responded.
Schlemmer testified Thursday in the second day of Laurel Schlemmer's trial on charges of criminal homicide in the deaths of their sons Daniel, 6, and Luke, 3.
Pellegrini on Wednesday played a video confession in which Laurel Schlemmer acknowledged holding the boys underwater on April 1, 2014, after returning from taking their 7-year-old brother to a school bus stop. Luke died that day, and Daniel died four days later.
Defense attorney Michael Machen is arguing Laurel Schlemmer was too mentally ill to know what she was doing.
But Pellegrini hopes to convince a judge the 43-year-old McCandless woman was purposely bent on killing the younger boys so she could focus her attention on their older brother and is seeking first-degree murder convictions. If successful, the woman would spend the rest of her life in prison.
Should Machen convinced the judge of her mental problems, she could be convicted of a lesser murder or manslaughter charge, found not guilty or found guilty but mentally ill. If that happens, she'd spend time in a state mental hospital and then go to prison for whatever remains of any sentence after she's deemed sane.
Pellegrini told Judge Jeffrey Manning in her opening statement Laurel Schlemmer was "fixated" on the idea the younger boys were autistic or otherwise abnormal, even though they were fine, and felt she could be a better mother to her oldest son if the younger boys were "in heaven."
A police officer testified Wednesday that Laurel Schlemmer left Daniel in a parked 112-degree vehicle outside a mall in September 2009 and then ran over both younger boys on April 16, 2013, outside her parents' home.
Police and child welfare workers concluded that was an accident.
But five days before she drowned the boys, Mark Schlemmer testified she called him at work to say she planned to call police and confess that she purposely ran over the boys. Daniel suffered a broken pelvis, and Luke broke his jaw and an ankle and suffered injuries to his liver and pancreas.
Mark Schlemmer testified he sent his wife to a physician, not a psychiatrist, after the vehicle incident to be medicated for depression and didn't leave her alone with the children for several weeks thereafter.
By late March 2014, Laurel Schlemmer wanted to confess, but her husband took two days off work and convinced her otherwise.
After his wife drowned the boys, Pellegrini asked him whether he "told the police, 'I'm a sinner. My son is dead, and I could have prevented it?'"
"I don't remember those exact words," he replied.
The trial was scheduled to continue Friday.