Woman found guilty in abuse deaths of two 8-year-old triplets

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A woman who said her multiple personalities were responsible for the deaths of two of her 8-year-old triplet sons was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder Saturday.

Mary Bass, 32, had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Her lawyers and defense experts said she had severe psychosis and a personality named ''Sharon'' who controlled her actions.

Police said Bass locked Gary and Larry Bass in a room and deprived them of food and dipped their feet in scalding water as punishment. The boys died in October 1999.

Bass' other triplet, and two other children are in foster care.

Besides murder, she was convicted of 10 other charges, including various child abuse charges. Jurors recommended eight life sentences, plus 32 years in prison. She was acquitted on a 13th charge of child abuse.

After the verdict was read, Bass leaned over and whispered to her defense counsel. Later, after one of her lawyers headed to the bench, Bass was seen smiling and appeared to be laughing softly.

At trial, Bass was erratic. At one point, a prosecutor asked a defense expert about ''Sharon,'' described as a cruel alternate personality.

Bass yelled, ''Well, what you don't understand? Gee!'' and was quieted by her lawyer. She then tore at her hand with a pen, which was taken away, and then used her fingers to scratch her wrist until she bled.

On Friday, she was removed from the courtroom after she cursed a prosecutor and yelled, ''No, no, no, no - I'd rather kill myself than kill my kids.'' She later laughed to herself as a prosecutor asked jurors to send her to prison.

Psychologist Marilyn Anne Hutchinson said Bass developed multiple personalities to cope with sexual and physical abuse as a child. Prosecutors agreed Bass had mental problems but rejected the multiple-personality diagnosis and insisted she knew right from wrong.

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.

Medical experts called the case one of the worst they had seen.

When police arrived at the Bass home after a 911 call from one of the Bass children, Larry was found dead of malnutrition. Gary was found upstairs lying on a filthy mattress, emaciated and so badly infected that his burned toes and part of his empty stomach had gangrene; he died two days later.

Records recently made public showed social workers thought the children had been abused repeatedly, but didn't recommend removing them before the two boys died. Officials at Missouri's Division of Family Services said the state has since changed its procedures.


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