Innocent by Reason of Insanity

A Texas jury found Andrea Yates innocent by reason of insanity for murdering her five children.

Yates, 42, will now be committed to a state mental hospital, with periodic hearings before a judge to determine whether she should be released. An earlier jury had found her guilty of murder, but the verdict was overturned on appeal.

This is the part that troubles me -- "with periodic hearings before a judge to determine whether she should be released." Released after drowning her FIVE children. That she could go free and possibly have more children is beyond comprehension.

Her husband weighs in:

"The jury looked past what happened and looked at why it happened," Rusty Yates told reporters outside the courthouse. "Prosecutors had the truth of the first day and stopped there. Yes, she was psychotic. That's the whole truth."
Some testified about her two hospitalizations after suicide attempts in 1999, not long after her fourth child was born. At the time, the family lived in a converted bus. Dr. Eileen Starbranch, a psychiatrist, again testified about how she warned Yates and her husband not to have more children because her postpartum psychosis would probably return.

The fact that he didn't stand trial for his part in this completely baffles me. That a man with five little children living in a converted bus (what woman wouldn't go insane?) would drive off to work every morning knowing his wife was suicidal, psychotic, unhinged, and depressed, makes him culpable for either negligent homicide or an assessory to his kids' murders (yes I watch Law & Order too).

The insanity defense is suspect for several reasons:

The state's key witness was Dr. Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist who interviewed Yates for two days in May. He testified that Yates killed the youngsters because she felt overwhelmed and inadequate as a mother, not for altruistic reasons.
Welner said that although Yates may have been psychotic on the day of the murders, it wasn't until the next day in jail that she talked about Satan, wanting to be executed and saving her kids from hell. He said the hallucination may have been triggered by the stresses of being naked in a cell on suicide watch and realizing what she had done.
Welner said Yates knew her actions were wrong and showed it in multiple ways: waiting until her husband left for work to kill them, covering the bodies with a sheet and calling 911 soon after the crime.

This is a sad day for justice.

Posted by Mutti at July 26, 2006 11:10 AM | TrackBack