Psychiatric evaluation ordered for McCandless mother charged in drowning


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A McCandless mother charged in the drowning deaths of her two youngest sons was found incompetent to stand trial and ordered Monday to be hospitalized.

Laurel Michelle Schlemmer, 40, was evaluated Thursday by Christine Martone at the Allegheny County Jail's behavior unit.

During a brief hearing before Judge Jeffrey A. Manning, Dr. Martone said Ms. Schlemmer has major depressive disorder, is psychotic and has suicidal thoughts.

Judge Manning ordered Ms. Schlemmer to go to Torrance State Hospital in Derry Township for another evaluation and remain there for a period not to exceed 90 days.

The judge granted defense attorney Michael Machen permission Thursday to have his own retained psychiatrist, Layla Soliman, visit Ms. Schlemmer in Allegheny County Jail, and a meeting was scheduled for 5 p.m. that day.

Mr. Machen met the doctor at the jail and, at 5:06 p.m., he said the doctor received a call from the University of Pittsburgh "barring her from doing the case."

Dr. Soliman declined to comment when reached by phone Monday afternoon. A UPMC spokeswoman also declined to comment.

Ms. Schlemmer called 911 about 9:40 a.m. Tuesday and told a call-taker that she thought her children might have drowned in the bathtub. According to a criminal complaint, she later told Allegheny County police that she heard "crazy voices" and then pushed 3-year-old Luke and 6-year-old Daniel down into the tub water, at one point sitting on top of them.

A third son, who is older, was at school at the time.

Ms. Schlemmer faces charges of homicide and other crimes in connection with the death of Luke, who died at UPMC Passavant about an hour after the drowning. She faces charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and other crimes in connection with the death of Daniel, who died at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC on Saturday.

Judge Manning granted a defense request to impose a gag order in the case.

Funeral arrangements for the boys are being coordinated by Schellhaas Funeral Home & Cremation Services Inc. in Sewickley and had not been finalized Monday evening.


Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620. Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published April 7, 2014 11:58 AM

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