DALLAS – A mother who locked her malnourished, 8-year-old daughter in a closet suffers from borderline personality disorder and depression, a psychiatrist for the defense testified Monday.
Dr. J. Douglas Crowder, testifying during the sentencing phase of the woman's trial, said the woman was adopted as a 3-year-old and felt unloved and angry as a child.
"We have here a miserable person that didn't know how to cope," he said.
Barbara Atkinson, 30, pleaded guilty Thursday to serious bodily injury to a child and faces five years to life in prison. Prosecutors said the girl was nearly dead when she was found last summer in a Hutchins mobile home, weighing only 25 pounds.
Crowder said Atkinson regretted giving up her daughter at birth and thought her own adoptive mother would love her more if she got the baby back.
But when the child was returned because of a legal error by the adoptive parents' attorney, the child misbehaved and Atkinson feared her ex-husband, who lived with her, would leave if she couldn't control her, Crowder said.
Under cross-examination, Crowder said Atkinson knew right from wrong, and knowingly put the girl's life in danger.
"A lot of people walk around that are depressed, but they don't lock their children in the closet," prosecutor Patricia Hogue said.
Closing arguments were set for Tuesday.