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Attorneys want woman in hospital, not jail

A woman accused of strangling her two children is plagued by a psychotic depression that probably would make her suicidal if she is moved to jail, her attorneys contend. Dorothy Dianne Rose needs to be treated at a mental health facility if there is to be any hope that she will ever be competent to stand trial, according to five doctors the defense hired to examine her.

Rose slit her wrists and stabbed herself in the abdomen Jan. 23 after police say she strangled her 13-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son. She has recovered from those injuries, and now her attorneys want a judge to keep her from being transferred to jail.

Attorney Barry A. Cohen filed reports this week from four psychiatrists and a psychologist that conclude the 31-year-old woman is mentally ill and that the medical unit at the Hillsborough County Jail is not equipped to meet her special needs. Cohen wants Rose treated at the medical-psychiatric unit of St. Joseph's Hospital.

The doctors agree that Rose suffers from severe psychotic depression. "She has a fixed delusional idea that her children are alive and well and that nothing else in life actually exists," Dr. Robert H. Coffer Jr. wrote.

Moving her to jail would confuse her, Coffer said. "She would have no understanding of the reasons for such an incarceration since she has no memory of the events which occurred on Jan. 23, 1990, and has no understanding of the fact that a crime has been committed."

A hearing on the request is scheduled for today. Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney John Skye said Thursday that he hadn't decided whether he will object to the defense request.

The Hillsborough grand jury is expected to consider Rose's case next week.

Rose's neighbors on Holyoke Avenue have said she was afraid of losing custody of her children to her estranged husband, Michael Rose, 32, and his girlfriend, Bonnie McNabb. One neighbor said that the day before the killings, Michael Rose showed his wife a document that he said would give him custody.