Was an Illinois woman insane when she stabbed her 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old girl to death in 2012, allegedly believing the children were possessed by demons and that she was commanded to kill them by a “black shadow”?
That was the argument advanced this week by one defense witness, a forensic psychiatrist, called to testify in the ongoing murder trial of Elzbieta Plackowska, which commenced on Sept. 12.
Her legal team is mounting an insanity defense, according to court officials, and she has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and animal cruelty.
The children were killed on Oct. 30, 2012 in Naperville, Illinois. They were stabbed more than 100 times, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE, which show Plackowska also killed two dogs that same evening.
On Wednesday, Dr. Phillip Resnick took the stand for more than four hours as a defense witness and told the court that Plackowska, 45, “had a psychotic belief” demons had invaded the bodies of her son, Justin, and Olivia Dworakowski, a girl she had been asked to babysit.
Resnick testified that Plackowska began experiencing psychosis several weeks after the death of her father back in her native Poland. Therefore, he posited, Plackowska was completely incapable of comprehending the heinousness of her deadly actions, court officials tell PEOPLE.
Resnick, a professor of psychiatry at Case Western University in Cleveland, testified that Plackowska believed killing the children would allow them to enter heaven, court officials confirm.
However, the prosecution argues Plackowska was unhappy in her marriage and with her life and that the slayings were her way of escaping her misery.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Under cross-examination on Thursday, prosecutors pressed Resnick about some of Plackowska’s behavior the night of the killings which seemed to indicate she was aware of what she’d done, including putting the knife in the garbage disposal afterward and getting rid of her cell phone, the Chicago Tribune reports.
In response to prosecutors claims about Plackowska’s marriage, Resnick said problems with her husband were not the rational basis for her actions, according to the paper.
Several people allegedly told investigators that Plackowska had been acting strangely in the days before the killings in 2012. Court officials say some even overheard the woman murmuring about demons.
Resnick said on the stand that Plackowska told him during interviews that, as she was minding the two children, she noticed a “black shadow” materialize, court officials confirm.
The figure allegedly spoke, she told Resnick, urging her to “kill them, kill them.”
The shadow also allegedly told Plackowska she, too, would die after the children were dead, according to court officials.
The prosecution is expected to call its own psychiatric expert witness on Friday, the Tribune reports.