November 9, 2005

Child-killer Yates to face new trial

By Matt Daily

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who
drowned her five children in 2001, will face a second trial
after the state's highest criminal court refused on Wednesday
to reinstate the murder convictions against her.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld a lower appeals
court's ruling issued in January that overturned jury verdicts
against Yates because of errors in the testimony of an expert

Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said he
would try Yates again as soon as possible.

"She killed a bunch of kids, and you don't do that in
Harris County," Rosenthal said.

During the trial in 2002, prosecutors' expert witness Dr.
Park Dietz told the jury Yates had patterned the killings on an
episode from the television drama "Law & Order," for which he
worked as a consultant.

However, defense lawyers later discovered the episode never

Rosenthal said he disagreed with the appellate court and
would put Dietz back on the stand as an expert witness in a new

The case brought the Texas justice system under scrutiny
for its stance on insanity as a legal defense. The law requires
defendants diagnosed with mental diseases to show they do not
know right from wrong.

A jury originally rejected Yates' insanity defense and
found her guilty of three of the deaths of her five children.
She was sentenced to life in prison.

Yates, who admitted to drowning her children, ages six
months to five years, in the bathtub in the family's home in
suburban Houston, had been diagnosed as suffering from severe
postpartum depression after the birth of her fifth child and
prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

She had told police she killed the children to save them
from the devil. Her husband was at work at the nearby NASA
Johnson Space Center at the time of the murders.

Yates' lawyer George Parnham has suggested that prosecutors
could agree to a deal that sends Yates to a state mental

Yates, 41, is being held at the Skyview prison in Rusk,
Texas, which is the Texas psychiatric hospital for convicts.
Yates is kept on heavy medication to prevent psychotic
episodes, her family and lawyers have said.

(Additional reporting by Erwin Seba)