In June of 2001, Andrea Yates dialed 911 and wanted the police to come to her house. She didn’t tell them why but they were shocked when they arrived and found that Andrea Yates had drowned her five children in the bathtub in her home. Was this a cold, calculating murder or was she insane?
You Be the Judge!
When the first police officer arrived on the scene, a wet and visibly shaken Yates approached him and said “I killed my children.” Yates then led the officer to a back bedroom and she removed a sheet that covered the bodies of four wet children ranging in ages from seven years down to six months of age. The oldest, Noah, was still in the bathtub when the police arrived. Her husband, who was working for NASA at the time in Houston, stated that his wife had suffered from post partum depression for the past two years after the birth of their fourth child and was on medication for it. Researchers said at that time, between ten and twenty percent of all new mothers suffer from some form of post partum depression and it was so bad in her that she even attempted suicide in 1999.
The three oldest boys were at a neighbor’s house that weekend with their father celebrating a birthday of the neighbor’s child. The boys were happy and were having a good time and when asked where Andrea was, her husband said that “she was home depressed from having a baby or something like that.” The neighbor told police. Another neighbor had commented that he was glad his kids were not there that night sleeping over because she could have very well killed them also.
In an interview with the police, she recounted the methodical way that she killed her children saying that she killed her 2 year old first. The oldest boy, Noah, came into the bathroom while Andrea was holding the six month old and he asked what was wrong with her. Sensing something was wrong, he tried to run and Andrea chased him through the house, caught him, dragged him back to the bathroom and drowned him next to Mary, the six month old.
She was convicted of the horrendous crime and now jurors had the daunting task of sentencing her to death or having to decide if she was insane. Her husband testified that she tried to commit suicide twice in 1999 after their fourth child was born and was hospitalized both times. She was also suffering from post partum depression and psychosis. However, in Texas, that isn’t enough. It all comes down to if she knew the difference between right and wrong. She also talked about the voice of Satan in her head and this voice told her that she had to die and in order for her to die, she would have to kill her children so the state would put her to death. This voice also told her that her children were not righteous and would never be redeemed because she kept stumbling in her faith.
In an interview with a prosecutorial paid psychologist, who had assessed John Hinckley, Susan Smith and Jeffrey Dahmer as sane, the prosecution thought she was more than qualified for this case, even though the psychiatrist was not familiar with post partum distress. In the interview, Andrea Yates said that she was picturing Heaven and praying that her kids would go there as Satan was right there, guiding her in the murders. When she was done, Satan left her. When the psychiatrist asked why Satan left, Andrea replied, “He destroys then leaves.”
The jury took two hours to come back with a “Guilty as charged” verdict. Texas law also requires that jurors come back with a sentence: either life in prison or death by lethal injection. They would come back in two days for the sentencing and it is said that at least ten of the jurors came back with life in prison and two voted for the death penalty. This was 2002 and in 2006, a jury in the court of appeals overturned the decision and declared her not guilty by reason of insanity. She was then ordered to be committed to a Texas state hospital and in January of 2007, she was moved to a low security state mental hospital in Kerrville, Texas.
Do you feel she was insane or did she know what she was doing? You Be the Judge!