Wednesday, July 26, 2006
A Texas jury found Andrea Yates not guilty of capital murder by reason of insanity. Four years ago, Yates had been found guilty of drowning her five children.
But Yates' prior prior conviction had been based on a forensic psychiatrist's false claim that Yates had been inspired by an episode on NBC "Law and Order" where a mother was acquitted for drowning her children by reason of insanity.
"Law and Order" never aired such a story plot; and attorneys for Yates successfully argued that bogus evidence had unduly influenced the prior jury panel; the conviction was overturned on appeal.
And after rehearing the evidence and deliberating for three days, jurors agreed with defense that Yates was insane, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Howling Latina previously posted about the trial and wondered whether Yates would receive a fair trial in Harris County.
The verdict upholding Yates' insanity defense comes after the jury deliberated more than 12 hours over three days. Yates appeared shocked and sat staring wide-eyed with her lips slightly parted as State District Judge Belinda Hill asked each juror individually shortly after noon today whether they agreed with the verdict.
The acquittal in Yates' second capital murder trial follows nearly a month's worth of exhaustive testimony, capped by four hours of emotional closing arguments Monday, during which Yates broke down in tears and her former husband, Russell Yates, abruptly left the courtroom.
The jury's verdict means Yates, 42, will be sent to a state mental hospital for treatment, rather than be sentenced to life in prison. "It's a miracle,'' Rusty Yats said afterward when asked his reaction.
Blessedly, the answer is "yes."
Indeed, the American criminal justice system doesn't need to punish people who have no more control over their mental constitution that any other health ailment.
What happened is a tragedy, but an even greater tragedy is that her husband not only ignored the signs, but kept producing children with her ... when all reports indicated that her symptoms surfaced following the births of her first two children.