No one denies that Elzbieta Plackowska had problems on the night of Oct. 30, 2012, as she plunged a kitchen knife into her 7-year-old son 173 times and a 5-year-old girl she was baby-sitting 90 times.
But over the next two weeks, a DuPage County judge will hear testimony and arguments about the cause and severity of those "problems."
Plackowska is on trial, charged with 12 counts of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Prosecutors say her murderous rage was fueled by alcoholism and a feeling of worthlessness. Her attorneys, however, say she suffers from mania, the most serious of the bipolar disorders.
Assistant State's Attorney Mike Pawl, in his opening arguments Tuesday, said the now 45-year-old Naperville woman is an alcoholic with a narcissistic personality disorder.
Plackowska, formerly of the 200 block of East Bailey Road in Naperville, is the daughter of a well-known Polish doctor, Pawl said, and lived a good life growing up in Poland. But since coming to America, she felt unappreciated by her husband and family and resented her employers, he said.
Pawl said Plackowska worked two jobs. In the mornings she would clean houses, a job she felt was beneath her. In the afternoon and evening, she was a caretaker for 5-year-old Olivia Dworakowski as her mother, Marta, worked nights.
"She came from a prominent family in Poland and now, in the United States, she's cleaning toilets," Pawl said. "She's got a problem with alcohol. She's got a problem with her husband and she's got a problem with her employers."
On Oct. 30, Pawl said, Plackowska picked up her son Justin Plackowski, 7, and Olivia Dworakowski, 5, as she normally would. But instead of going straight to Olivia's Naperville home, she took the children to confession at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Naperville.
She eventually took them to Olivia's home and let the children play for a bit before getting them ready for bed.
It was then that she stabbed Justin 173 times and Olivia 90 before turning the knife on her dog, Tootsie, and Olivia's dog, Nicky.
Pawl said Plackowska told investigators that she killed her son to get some sort of revenge on her husband and that she did it at Olivia's home "because she didn't want to make a mess in her house."
"She knew she did something wrong and she appreciates the criminality of her conduct," Pawl said. "She's not insane."
Police caught up with her early in the morning of Oct. 31, after she traveled to a friend's home on Violet Circle in Naperville where her 20-year-old son had been staying. She is alleged to have called her priest on the way to the friend's home and left a message that she had "done something bad" and needed help.
Someone at the Violet Circle address called police to report that Plackowska arrived covered in blood and claiming she had been robbed. At roughly the same time, Olivia's mother, who had been at work, was calling police because she was locked out of her townhouse and couldn't find Plackowska or her child.
Naperville police officers forced entry into Olivia's home to find blood covering a hall leading to the master bedroom. Investigators found a blood-soaked steak knife in the kitchen sink and another bloody knife in Plackowska's car on Violet. The children were in the bedroom -- Justin on the floor and Olivia on her mother's bed.
Once at the friend's home, Plackowska told them and investigators that an intruder had broken into the home, killed the children and took her cellphone, which she later admitted to throwing out her car window.
Pawl said videos he expects to play during trial will show she stuck to her story about an intruder for sometime before eventually confessing to investigators.
First Deputy Public Defender George Ford, however, said Plackowska very much loved her husband, her children and Olivia. But in the weeks after her own father's death, Plackowska began losing her own battle with bipolar disease, he said.
"She was not in control of her thoughts," he said. "She was not in control of her actions."
In fact, Ford said, as Plackowska was stabbing her son to death, she was telling him she loved him.
"'I love you and I will kill the devil,'" Ford said Plackowska told Justin. "She was killing what had been pursuing her for weeks, the devil."
The trial resumes 10 a.m. today with Plackowska's son Matusz Plackowski taking the witness stand.
If Plackowska is found to be not guilty by reason of insanity, she could be confined to a state mental hospital rather than prison. If found guilty and sane, she could be sentenced to natural life in prison.