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Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2000

Defense up next in trial of child abuse, murder

October 19, 2000

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— Medical experts testified Tuesday that two young brothers died of severe child abuse, even calling it "torture."

Lawyers for their mother, Mary Bass, told jurors she was insane, and sometimes taken over by a personality named "Sharon."

After the medical experts' testimony, the prosecution rested its case in the double-murder trial.

Bass suffers from multiple personalities and other mental illnesses, defense lawyers said during opening statements Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Defense witnesses established that the Kansas City woman had received treatment for headaches for years. The defense said the headaches come when "Sharon" takes control of Bass.

Bass, 32, is charged with second-degree murder in the deaths of two of her triplet sons last October.

Defense lawyers didn't dispute she burned Larry and Gary Bass' lower legs and feet on Oct. 15, 1999, and then left the wounds untreated. Larry died five days later and Gary two days after that.

Social workers and medical experts said that both boys would have lived if taken to a hospital immediately after the burns. Left untreated, the injuries led to a loss of skin, massive infections and gangrene.

In his opening statement, defense lawyer Randall Schlegel said that "Sharon" was Bass' response to years of misbehavior by Larry and Gary. Mary Bass was unable to handle the boys, Schlegel said, and tried to solve the problem with acts that "get crazier and crazier."

Schlegel said he would ask for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Assistant prosecutor Dan Miller told jurors that evidence would show that Bass was guilty of two murders caused by child abuse. The 13 counts against her include several abuse charges.

Sam Gulino, deputy Jackson County medical examiner, said the burns would have been agonizing, and with the starvation caused a slow and hard death.

"If we were to see a case like this in Yugoslavia ... we would call it torture," he said.

In a statement Bass gave police after the deaths, she said she lost control of the boys years before.

Social workers told her not to beat Larry any more, she said, and Larry felt he could misbehave.

In the summer of 1998, she regularly kept Larry and Gary locked in a room before the burnings and fed them little, hoping they would behave better.

The trial continues before a sequestered jury selected last week in Phelps County, Mo.

Bass' boyfriend, Tony Dixon, 37, is also charged with child abuse and endangering a child in the case. His court date has not been set.

Social workers with the Division of Family Services repeated contact with the family for several years.

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