Psycho Mom

Lisa Diaz had to save her "precious babies" from an evil world. She drowned them.

The day before the murders, Lisa threw away Misty's hairbrush, believing it was ringworm-infested. She remembers feeling anxious. "I believe we had to go to the Laundromat that day to go wash the blankets again," Lisa says.

That night, Lisa gave Briana some of the Chinese herbs to drink. The little girl balked. Angel, observing all of this, became angry.

"That's when he said that I needed to see a psychiatrist, because he said there's nothing wrong with them," Lisa tells Dr. Crowder on the videotape.

Lisa and Angel Diaz and their children, Briana (left) and Kamryn, seemed like a happy family. But Lisa was descending into a world of irrational fears and imagined illness.
Lisa and Angel Diaz and their children, Briana (left) and Kamryn, seemed like a happy family. But Lisa was descending into a world of irrational fears and imagined illness.
Top: Briana, Kamryn and their father, Angel Diaz, in family snapshots taken about two years before the girls died. Briana is the older girl. Bottom: Lisa Diaz breaks down while describing how she drowned her daughters. Her videotaped account was played for the jury in her capital murder trial.
Top: Briana, Kamryn and their father, Angel Diaz, in family snapshots taken about two years before the girls died. Briana is the older girl. Bottom: Lisa Diaz breaks down while describing how she drowned her daughters. Her videotaped account was played for the jury in her capital murder trial.

"I thought that he was the one that needed the psychiatrist, because he couldn't see the things that were obvious."


About six weeks after the killings, Angel Diaz visited the McKinney law office of Darlina Crowder. The attorney was impressed: Well-groomed, handsome, wearing a business suit, Diaz seemed like a successful executive. But he was still distraught. The first two times they met, Angel started bawling as he talked about his daughters.

"He didn't come in to hire me, but to get advice," says Ms. Crowder, who is also Hispanic (she is not related to psychologist Jaye Crowder). Angel wasn't happy with Steve Miller. Angel "wanted someone to keep in contact with him on a daily basis," Crowder says. Reassuring him that Miller was an excellent lawyer, Ms. Crowder sent Diaz on his way. But Diaz returned, determined to change counsel.

"As far as Angel was concerned, Lisa was a great mother," Ms. Crowder says. "He was devastated that his daughters were gone. But he loved his wife. To him, there were no signs that she would actually kill her children. He didn't come in and say, 'My wife is crazy.' He said, 'I don't know what happened. She's a good wife, a good mother. I come home, and my kids are dead.'" Lisa's oldest daughter, Misty, was supportive of her mother, too.

The Diazes didn't have financial problems or lots of debt. No one was having an affair. A mother of three children, Ms. Crowder had one thought: "Any mother who killed her kids has to have something wrong with her."

At that point, Ms. Crowder had been practicing law for six years. For such a big case, she had to bring in Robert Udashen. That afternoon, Ms. Crowder and Diaz drove to Dallas to meet with her mentor.

Udashen had made national headlines in October 1980 when he and veteran McKinney attorney Don Crowder successfully defended Candy Montgomery in the ax murder of Betty Gore. Their strategy was self-defense, not insanity. Gore had confronted Montgomery about an affair with Gore's husband and attacked first. The self-defense scenario, however, was problematic: Montgomery had struck Gore 41 times.

Udashen hired a psychologist to evaluate Montgomery. He determined she had flashed back to a childhood trauma and lost control when Gore told her, "Ssshhh." The case would eventually become the subject of a book and a movie.

It was Don Crowder, Darlina's father-in-law, who inspired her to go to law school. Days after Darlina passed the bar exam in November 1998, Don committed suicide. Ms. Crowder says that some people blamed his death on the Montgomery case. She doesn't.

"I think he was extremely proud he won the case," she says, "but I don't think he realized the severity of public reaction. A lot of the people in this county didn't care for him anymore."

After Don Crowder's death, Ms. Crowder turned to Udashen when she needed advice. (She divorced Don's son in 2002.)

Boyish and athletic, Udashen, 51, doesn't look much older than he did when he defended Montgomery. Since that case, he's developed a reputation as a lawyer's lawyer--great in the courtroom, good at appellate work and an excellent teacher--but before the Diaz trial, he'd handled only two insanity cases. He lost one; the other didn't make it to trial.

In Texas, the "not guilty by reason of insanity" defense is raised in less than 1 percent of all felony cases. And only 26 percent of the cases in which it is raised result in a NGRI verdict.

Texas Penal Code section 8.01 states: It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that, at the time of the conduct charged, the actor, as a result of severe mental disease or defect, did not know that his conduct was wrong. Though many criminals have mental conditions, the problem is the definition of two words, know and wrong.

According to University of Texas law professor George Dix, the right-or-wrong standard dates back to 1843, in the so-called M'Naghten case. British woodworker Daniel M'Naghten shot and killed a secretary during his assassination attempt on the prime minister. He was acquitted; doctors said that he suffered from what would now be called "delusions of persecution symptomatic of paranoid schizophrenia." Under M'Naghten, if the accused is unable to tell the difference between right and wrong at the time of the crime, he should be acquitted.

In the 1960s, a second "volitional" prong was added to Texas law, absolving a defendant if he acted on an "irresistible impulse." But after the acquittal of John Hinckley for the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1982, more than 30 states, including Texas, eliminated that prong and tightened their insanity defense standards.

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19 comments
dyhernandez86
dyhernandez86

Ahhh and the people pleading insanity... you should die not b set free!!!! People NEVER follow through with completing thier treatments!

dyhernandez86
dyhernandez86

My heart goes out to the kids!!!! I don't understand why we continue to let these sick people back in this world. If you mess up once for murder or drugs or any horrific crime you should be put to death. Our world be a better place without physhcos. We r wasting our time and money on people that will never change. Why sentenced them to llife when they ruin lives we r better off executing them n b done with it. Think of all the kids that would b still here today if it weren't for these pedophiles/ sex offenders, bad parenting, people who blame drugs for their crime( to scared to take on full responsibility for their actions), murderers, drug cartels/ wars, prostitution, etc. WHEN WILL THIS STOP? WHEN WE ALL KILL EACH OTHER????

kavitag
kavitag

imagine being called schizo for trying to wash off the wool from over your pathetic eyes, guest.

kavitag
kavitag

i guess you must be from pune, india and are in the habit of protecting perverted doctors, huh - guest coward? you know real schizophrenics can kill, dismember and still plead insanity - hehehe - look over your shoulder the next time you make a comment like that to someone who may be really insane - hehehe

kavita gunaji
kavita gunaji

I have a feeling that this woman Lisa got caught between the mexican and chinese drug cartel. She was made to think she was crazy and she was drugged often. They can use twitter and remote technology such as a Wifi hot spot to create a boundary layer around you and have you fitted with a hearing device that may not appear to an ENT looking down your ear (see-through technology - no visible wiring) or even use your whole body or part of it as the receiver - transmitter. others will not hear what you hear and you will be made to be the crazy one. continuous drug ingestion without the person actually knowing they are on drugs can cause homicidal results. the fact that the 'bastard' doctor rubbed her in an inappropriate fashion shows that sometimes perverts are used to make a person feel uncomfortable and then if you tell someone they say you are lying and have a habit of telling lies to get attention. believe you me, i was a victim of such advances and cruel treatment. there was only one doctor who kept apologizing by seeing my level of discomfort when he touched me during my pap exam. he kept explaining what he was doing and i think he was a good doctor. there have been others who were not so nice.

kavita gunaji
kavita gunaji

This is in relation to the murders by Andrea Yates: Although I do believe people suffer from mental illness and that this was a low statistic in our population more than two decades ago, there is the likelihood that this statistic is now on the rise because of signal technology, online (internet), ease of insertion of online materials such as a minute silicon chip into the human body where it can be manipulated with ease by anyone who can dial in. This is with the advent of cell phone technology, high speed microprocessors and the sort. In other words, it is easy for any person to insert minute chips into another person and send them messages. The victim may or may not hear these messages depending on what frequency they are sent on. Is it just not possible that Andrea Yates fears and paranoia may have stemmed from such messages, in addition to brain washing (hypnotizing) drugs induced into her system and the fact that she was over-worked and underfed that could have induced her trance that day? Now, all that remains to be proved is the existence of someone with a motive - someone who was jealous of her supermom capabilities - possibly a jealous rival from her high school - with who she might have shared a boyfriend - or another possibility - someone who her husband was seeing at that time or had seen some time before the murders took place. Every person is responsible for their actions - however, the combination of drugs (brain altering) in addition to low glucose levels and the possibility of an internet online chip in her body could drive anyone to behave like a walkie-talkie and be manipulated or controlled into forced actions that the person who feels spaced out while committing these actions, may not be able to control.

kavita gunaji
kavita gunaji

Although I do believe people suffer from mental illness and that this was a low statistic in our population more than two decades ago, there is the likelihood that this statistic is now on the rise because of signal technology, online (internet), ease of insertion of online materials such as a minute silicon chip into the human body where it can be manipulated with ease by anyone who can dial in. This is with the advent of cell phone technology, high speed microprocessors and the sort. In other words, it is easy for any person to insert minute chips into another person and send them messages. The victim may or may not hear these messages depending on what frequency they are sent on. Is it just not possible that Andrea Yates fears and paranoia may have stemmed from such messages, in addition to brain washing (hypnotizing) drugs induced into her system and the fact that she was over-worked and underfed that could have induced her trance that day? Now, all that remains to be proved is the existence of someone with a motive - someone who was jealous of her supermom capabilities - possibly a jealous rival from her high school - with who she might have shared a boyfriend - or another possibility - someone who her husband was seeing at that time or had seen some time before the murders took place. Every person is responsible for their actions - however, the combination of drugs (brain altering) in addition to low glucose levels and the possibility of an internet online chip in her body could drive anyone to behave like a walkie-talkie and be manipulated or controlled into forced actions that the person who feels spaced out while committing these actions, may not be able to control.

Star
Star

I have never really been able to understand the insanityplea..arn't most cold blooded killers crazy what makesany of them any different from each other..why even havea jail if most of these evil people will get away withit by reason of insanity just another cop out like evenDahmer him self said about people that use that line..I am sure people like him would know.. and what is it with people in Texas getting away with stuff like that..I thought they were the tough state on crime maybe not..

John T.Patterson
John T.Patterson

I Too Beleive It's All Total Horseshit!!!Yes,I Understand That Some Women Can Suffer From Post Partum Depression Very Badly!!However,I Come From A Big Family And With The Exception Of A Cousin Whose Wife Left Him and His Two Sons In The Early 70's Who Wound Up Leaving My Folks To raise Them,No One In My Family Ever did Such A Thing!!And That Includes My Departed Mother;Sister;Sisters In Law;Aunts and a Stepneice!!And While I've Never Been A Father;I've Been An Uncle;Great Uncle;Stepfather and Stepgrandfather and While Maybe I Mighta Got A Little Mad at Them At Times;I've Never Thought Of Killing Any Of Them;Nor Have Their Parents!!And While Wer'e At It,We Also Need To Prosecute These"Mental Health Experts"Who Declare Them To Be"Legally Insane"At Their Hearings!!Also,Another Factor In Some Of The Women who Murdered Their Kids Is That In Some Cases,They Belonged To Some Kind Of Fundavengelical Church Led By Some Kind Of Self Styled"Preacher"Who's No More A Minister Than David KoreshWho Convinces Them Their Problems Are Caused By"Demonic Possession"!!!We Need To Prosecute Them as Well!!!My One Hope Is That When These Poor Little children Made Their Way To Heaven,God Let My Mother;Grandmothers and Aunts Take Care Of Them!!Lord Knows They didn't Get Any Care On Earth!!

Misty
Misty

It's hurtful to read stuff like this, especially when you happen to be the daughter of the woman this article is about.

Heather Boyles
Heather Boyles

I think it's total BULLSHIT that a jury can prove someone innocent of KILLING their kids. I don't care how " depressed" you are they is no excuse not even insanity for drowning your kids, beating them with stones, cutting their arms off or even hanging them. And people who think that depression is the reason then I guess they don't have children themselves. Almost every mother out here is depressed at one time or another. So I say put them away for life in a room with pictures of their kids painted on the walls or kill them.

guest
guest

For kavita gunaji--two words: paranoid schizophrenia. You need help; there's medication for what you have.

Ashleyt4587
Ashleyt4587

Misty - did you know anything about the daughter she gave up for adoption in 1987?

kavitag
kavitag

oh go make like a whitney houston and od on your cocaine

kavitag
kavitag

but then again i graduated from iit bombay in 1985. you probably do not know anything about technology and as long as there are people like you around, some of us will get away with a lot more than we have already gotten away with - hehehe - do some investigating and you will regret that you messed with me.

kavitag
kavitag

microchip technology was being developed in the decade before windows came out.

kavitag
kavitag

i have schizos in the family i was married to and they see snakes when others don't; you dont know what you are messing with - i think you should forget about a personal life now, huh, guest

kavitag
kavitag

use your real name coward - i know your mom probably fed you through her clitty instead of her titty.

 
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