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Andrea Yates found guilty. Do you agree?

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    Andrea Yates found guilty. Do you agree?

    The jury deliberated for only 3'40" and surprised everyone [the media pundits] with their guilty verdict. What do you think?

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~
    Yes. She's guilty. I hope she gets the death sentence.
    Yes. She's guilty. I hope she gets life imprisonment
    No. She's not guilty by reason of insanity. She belongs in a psychiatric hospital.
    ~See you at the CareCure-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~

    I strongly agree with the decision.

    If not, anyone could make up any religion they want, to support any crime they want, in order to believe they are not doing wrong, and be not guilty afterward. This was the most effective logic employed by the prosecution, IMO. The legal consultants for CNN totally ignored this reasoning and were very confident of a Not Guilty verdict. Not me. I really thought she would be found guilty. There are certain laws that are immutable; they certainly can't be muted by anyone's religion. And 'Thou shalt not murder' is one of them.

    ~See you at the SCIWire-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~
    ~See you at the CareCure-used-to-be-paralyzed Reunion ~


      I agree with the decision as well. The ultimate issue for the jurors to decide upon was not whether she was insane but did she know the difference between right and wrong at the time of the crime. If they felt she did know, they had no choice but to find her guilty, if they believed she didn't know they could have found her innocent by reason of insanity. I think it's interesting that she didn't start talking about Satan until the day after she was arrested.

      Yates Found Guilty in Drowning Deaths

      .c The Associated Press

      HOUSTON (March 12) - Andrea Yates, the 37-year-old housewife who admitted she drowned her five children, was convicted of murder Tuesday by a jury that rejected her claim of insanity.

      Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Yates, who had pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. She also could be sentenced to life in prison.

      The jury deliberated less than four hours before finding her guilty of two charges of capital murder. The charges cover the deaths of three of her children.

      District Judge Belinda Hill, who read the verdict, said jurors would begin hearing testimony Wednesday in the punishment phase of the case.

      Deliberations began at midday after prosecutors told the jury of eight women and four men that even though Yates is mentally ill, she knew drowning her children was wrong and is thus guilty of murder.

      ''That's the key,'' prosecutor Kaylynn Williford said. ''Andrea Yates knew right from wrong, and she made a choice on June 20 to kill her children deliberately and with deception.''

      The defense argued that she suffered from postpartum depression so severe that she had lost her ability for rational thought.

      ''We can't permit objective logic to be imposed on the actions of Andrea Yates,'' defense attorney George Parnham said. ''She was so psychotic on June 20 that she absolutely believed what she was doing was the right thing to do.''

      Parnham also told the jury in the closely watched case: ''This is an opportunity for this jury to make a determination about the status of women's mental health. Make no mistake, the world is watching.''

      After deliberating about 2 1/4 hours, jurors passed a note to Hill asking for the definition of insanity. Thirty minutes later, jurors asked for a cassette player. Among items in evidence are audiotapes of Yates' confession and her 911 call to police the day of the drownings.

      Last year, Yates called her five children into the bathroom one by one and drowned them in the tub, then called 911 to tell authorities what she had done. Police found 7-year-old Noah in the tub; the other children were under a wet sheet on a bed.

      According to testimony, Yates was overwhelmed by the responsibilities of raising five children and believed she was a bad mother. She had suffered severe depression and had attempted suicide.

      She is on trial for the deaths of Noah, 5-year-old John and 6-month-old Mary, though there were only two capital murder charges filed.

      One count listed the killings of Noah and John as two victims killed during the commission of the same crime to qualify for capital punishment. The second count lists the death of Mary as a child under the age of 6.

      By not listing all the children in a single count, prosecutors avoided the possibility that an acquittal could void all the charges. If necessary, they could file charges later in the deaths of the other two youngsters, Paul, 3, and Luke, 2.

      Hoping to prove insanity, Yates' defense tried to convince the jury she could not tell right from wrong.

      Expert witnesses disagreed on that point.

      An expert for the defense told the jury that while Yates knew drowning her children was illegal, in her delusional mind she thought it was the only way to save her children from eternal damnation.

      Prosecutors said Yates did not start referring to Satan until the day after her arrest. Williford argued Yates was so deliberate she covered the bodies as she went because the children still alive were old enough to escape from the house and get help. She also noted bruises the children suffered as they struggled with their mother.

      AP-NY-03-12-02 1814EST

      [This message was edited by seneca on Mar 12, 2002 at 07:12 PM.]


        I agree but it's sad; I think they should have extended the sentence to her husband and doctors, also.

        Tough times don't last - tough people do.


          She deserved to be found guilty, and her husband should have been charged and convicted as an accessory.

          Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.


            Guilty yes, but

            I agree with the jury completely, but not the
            death penalty, this women knows right from wrong
            but she is severely disturbed mentally.In a perfect world she would get about twenty five years in a mental hospital and then we should take another look at her mind. Mental disabilities are just like physical disbilities,
            only , not as obvious.




                The Verdict

                Actually ,I was surprised at the verdict. Not that I don't agree with it because I do. I just don't have a lot of faith in our justice system.

                The verdict I expected was not guilty. That she would be placed in an institution for six months for observation, then released. Probably would then qualify for a government program to finance her starting up a combination Day Care and Child Grooming service.

                I swear that my new neighbor looks just like this Andrea Yates. She never looks you in the eye or talks with anyone. When she sends her kids off to school I feel like yelling at them to run for their lives

                What I don't understand is why all the really strange things seem to happen in Houston?

                Russ Byrd



                  do normal people drown there kids? yes she was and is insane all the more reason to take her out of society.

                  who is the basterdized lawyer who dreamed up the insanity plea?



                    I agree with marmalady, in my opinion her husband helped her get preganent out of selfishness? any way he should share th responsibiliy!!! what did it for me was her saying that the only attention she got fro her husband was when she was sick and in the hospital. i belive that says alot, she was the solerecipitant of her dads attention till he died and she did not get her husbands, the kids did, she wanted them out of he way to get the attention, and religion was goin to be her sape goat. people who hurt kids piss me off, but ones who di and try to hide behind religion, i could pull the switch myself. [img]/forum/images/smilies/mad.gif[/img]


                      Man why am I always the descinding vote

                      If Andrea Yates was not insane when she killed those precious children then I am not a quad. The only reason I really didn't get upset with the verdict is Andrea Yates life is already over. If someone manages to regulate her psycosis(sp?) and she truly realizes what she did she will kill herself anyway.

                      The person who should have been charged is Rusty Yates and Dr. Saeed for reckless endangerment to a child. They knew what she was capable of and they ignored it.

                      "Save the last dance for me!"


                        you and me, Deb

                        I'm not so cynical that I don't expect the world to make sense once in awhile, nor so naive that I think it always will, but in this case I really hoped reason would prevail.

                        This woman was out of her mind, and I think these reactions are about people's need for revenge. There is no adequate revenge, is what I say--nothing can balance what she did, and what her husband and doctors failed to do. Still, people will try to make her "pay". I understand the feeling, but it can't be done. So, should we kill her out of sheer frustration? No


                          Gee, it's a difficult one because I have read some people when severely depressed do kill others to put them out of their misery (in their own minds) and then often kill themselves.

                          I don't know the case too well - did she try to kill herself afterwards?

                          Some people must be innocent of killing someone if they are genuinely sick at the time and don't know what they doing but of course it also makes for a great excuse for someone cunning enough to carry it off

                          All I can say is I'd hate to be on the jury of such a case - the short length of time the jury spent does kind off imply that the insanity plea must have seemed a bit phoney in this instance.

                          Gee, why am I writing this? I'm just sitting on the fence!!


                            Op-ed from the Washington Post

                            Are We Insane?

                            By Richard Cohen

                            Thursday, March 14, 2002; Page A27

                            After 17 days of trial, after hearing from 38 witnesses, after sitting through a tutorial on the nature of schizophrenia, postpartum depression and psychosis -- after all of that and everything they knew from their own lives, a Texas jury of eight women and four men took just 3 1/2 hours to convict Andrea Yates of capital murder. I don't blame them. Like Yates, they knew right from wrong but could not help themselves.

                            Now, wide-eyed and dutiful, they must continue to follow the illogical logic of the law and proceed to the sentencing phase of their duty. They must decide whether Yates should die -- surely a mercy killing in her case -- or remain locked up for at least 40 years. The latter course is the more cruel and inhumane, because someday she's going to come out of her state, realize she's murdered her children and spend the rest of her life screaming her head off.

                            There have never been any good choices in this case. One by one Yates drowned her kids in nine inches of cold water. One of them, 5-year-old John, fought so hard he was found with his mother's hair in his fist. All but one of the kids were lined up in the bed, as if they were asleep; the fifth and oldest child, 7-year-old Noah, was left floating in the bathtub. Then Yates called the police and confessed.

                            "She made the choice to fill the tub," one of the prosecutors, Kaylynn Williford, told the jury. "She made the choice to kill these children. She knew it was wrong."

                            No, Ms. Williford. You are wrong -- and you know it. If you had the wit to get out of law school and to dress yourself in the morning, then you must know that what Yates knew is that others would deem her actions wrong. But as for herself, she was right. Her children were not "righteous." She was saving them from eternal damnation by sending them to heaven. That, Ms. Williford, was Yates's twisted thinking. The terms right and wrong simply do not apply.

                            For the defense, I now call Duke Cohen. He was my dog, beloved and sorely missed to this day -- so smart I used to joke that he could touch-type. In the state of Texas, he would be considered as knowing right from wrong. I used to come home and sometimes catch him asleep on the couch. That was forbidden. Wrong. He knew it. He would hang his head and retreat to the kitchen. "Bad dog," I would say, and he would look so stricken it could break your heart.

                            Did he know right from wrong? Yes and no. He knew what I didn't like. But he lacked morality.

                            Yates knew what the authorities would not like. But she was psychotic. Everyone agrees on that. She had twice attempted suicide. She had been medicated. What she did -- the crime she made no attempt to hide -- was just plain nuts. She did not run or come up with some lame story about going out for a quart of milk and coming back to a scene of horror. Her actions were insane. If they were not, then the word has no meaning.

                            The insanity defense was tightened after John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan and others in 1981. Hinckley was acquitted by reason of insanity. (He shot Reagan to get the attention of Jodie Foster, remember?) Innocent though he legally may be, he remains institutionalized. Guilty or not, the outcome would have been about the same.

                            That is not the case with Yates. She faces death -- a remote possibility, I would imagine, but one that casts a shadow over this whole case. Here we have a woman who, everyone concedes, is sick, and Texas, in the person of District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, recommends that she be treated by execution. This is bizarre. This is medieval. Zowie! This could be the path to higher political office.

                            For the sake of others, I almost hope the jury doesn't flinch. I almost hope it does not go in for jury nullification or any independent thinking. I almost hope it follows the dictates of the law, listens with care to the prosecutors and clings to the certainty that Yates knew, in some vague and meaningless way, that it was wrong to murder the children she very much loved. I almost hope it does this to confront us all with the insanity of the insanity defense and the barbarity of the death penalty.

                            Andrea Yates is sick. What's our excuse?


                              Not Guilty, Insane

                              For those of you not familiar with Charles Krauthammer, he's a syndicated columnist who writes a weekly op-ed piece for the Washington Post.

                              He happens also to be a quadriplegic AND a psychiatrist.

                              Not Guilty, Insane

                              By Charles Krauthammer

                              Friday, March 15, 2002; Page A23

                              I would have acquitted Andrea Yates.

                              It is not an easy call. But to be guilty, one needs to have free will. How free is the will of someone who is seriously psychotic?

                              Let's start with the easy cases. Just having a mental illness cannot be grounds for acquittal. The illness may not be active when you carry out a crime. Or it may not be relevant to the crime. Just having a diagnosis -- and in recent decades they have proliferated ridiculously -- does not give you legal carte blanche.

                              So you need mental illness plus. Plus what? Texas law says, plus the inability to distinguish right from wrong.

                              The easy case here is the guy who is hallucinating and takes an ax to a skull thinking it is a pumpkin. You cannot possibly find this person guilty. He literally knows not what he does.

                              That does not mean he walks free. Anybody that crazy is obviously a danger to the community. He needs to be controlled, confined and supervised for as long as it takes until society is sure that he will not again mistake a head for a pumpkin.

                              The hard case occurs when the murderer seems to know what he is doing. In one sense, Andrea Yates obviously knew what she was doing when she drowned each of her five children slowly, horribly, deliberately. The jury found her guilty, concluding that her actions that day -- waiting until her husband had left home, calling the cops immediately after she had killed her children -- demonstrated that she knew the killings were wrong.

                              It is a plausible line of argument, but I would argue differently. She clearly knew that what she did was illegal. And prohibited. And would cause her to be punished. But in the grip of a fantastic psychosis, she actually thought it was right. She thought she was saving her children from a worse fate, in this world and the next.

                              That is her story, and I do not believe it is a post-hoc rationalization. It is simply too common in cases of maternal infanticide resulting from postpartum depression. The psychotic thinking is quite typical: The mother feels some terrible satanic evil enveloping her and her children. She feels compelled -- often ordered by voices or other hallucinatory forces -- to "save" the children from that overwhelming evil by killing them.

                              In some cases, the mother then kills herself as well, sparing us the conundrum of deciding her guilt. Andrea Yates did not. But she fits the classic pattern. Since the birth of her firstborn, Yates had had visions of a knife and blood and child-murder. She twice tried to commit suicide, and had told a psychologist, "I had a fear I would hurt somebody. I thought it better to end my own life and prevent it."

                              Said Dr. Eileen Starbranch, the psychiatrist who treated one of her postpartum depressions, "She would rank among the five sickest -- and most difficult to get out of psychosis -- people that I've ever treated." And while her psychosis could often be controlled by medications, her doctor had stopped her antipsychotics just weeks before the killings. Even the prosecution psychiatrist admitted that when interviewed the day after the killings, she was "grossly psychotic," telling the county jail psychiatrist that voices had told her to kill her children.

                              This is not to say that any criminal can rationalize his crime as being for some higher good. This extenuation only applies in the case of severe mental derangement. Andrea Yates was clearly mentally deranged, not as proved by the murders -- that would make the murders self-acquitting -- but as demonstrated by her noncriminal behavior: self-injury, severe withdrawal, bizarre behavior, occasional catatonia, delusion, hallucinations.

                              As a former psychiatrist, I found the film "A Beautiful Mind" brilliant in rendering to people who have never seen psychosis how compelling hallucinations can be. The movie substituted visual hallucinations (which are rare) for auditory hallucinations (which are far more common but less vivid on screen), but the idea is the same: These visions and voices are so powerful that they can be irresistible.

                              Andrea Yates's mental illness is now masked by the Haldol she should have been taking at the time of the murders. I find it hard to see how she can be deemed by society to be truly responsible for her crime.

                              This is not a matter of sympathy. I have infinitely more sympathy for the five innocents who died so terribly. This is a matter of justice. Guilt presupposes free will. Did Andrea Yates really have it?

                              © 2002 The Washington Post Company