Almost exactly five years later, the State of Texas still wants to put Andrea Yates into a prison instead of a mental health facility for the rest of her life for drowning her five beloved chlidren, one by one, in the bathtub of their home. Never mind that overwhelming medical evidence indicated during her first trial in 2002 that Yates when she killed was severely mentally ill, and suffering from post-partum depression, and had been taken off the only medication that had helped her. Never mind that prosecutors were never able to offer jurors any real motive, or even a decent or reasonable explanation, for why an otherwise attentive and patient mother would suddenly turn on her children and kill them in cold-blood.
Never mind that the first trial ended in a conviction that was overturned when it was discovered that the lead prosecution expert witness made a grievous error in linking Yates to an episode of Law and Order (in which a mother drowns her child) which never actually aired. Never mind that Yates breathing free air again has never been an option since a "not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity" verdict would render her to a secured hospital, probably for the rest of her life. I was in court during the first trial, for almost every day, and I have never seen someone before or since look as sick as she did-- nor have I ever heard medical experts, one after another except for the hired gun brought in by prosecutors, agree on the depth and breadth of Yates' illness. This is the woman that the State of Texas wants to spend more time and money trying to send her to a penitentiary. It is a black mark of shame on every single decision-maker in the Harris County prosecutor's office-- and upon the trial judge herself-- that it would come to this: jury selection begins in court today in Houston in Yates II.
As anyone who followed the Enron trial of Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay knows, jury selection in Texas is like speed dating. What should take weeks takes days. What should take days takes hours. That's why opening statements in Yates II already are scheduled for Monday even though it is hard to imagine that any potential juror in and around Houston doesn't know who Yates is, what she did, what happened to her in 2002 as a result, and what has happened since. You would think that the natural saturation of the story would make jury selection both extremely difficult and time consuming. You would think that jury candidates would be asked pointed and numerous questions about their preconceived notion of Yates, her children, and what happened on that hot late spring morning three months before 9/11.
But if you think that you would be wrong. Yates' trial judge, Belinda Hill, who certainly did not distinguish herself during Yates I, isn't likely to do any better in Yates II in ensuring that the defendant gets a jury that is as open-minded and free of taint as possible. Last week, Judge Hill ordered Yates to prison for the duration of the trial (she will be in court of course) but cannot stay at a mental health facility while the trial is underway. There is no reason to believe that Yates II will turn out any differently than Yates I; no reason to think that the passage of time has quenched the thirst of some to blame and then punish a poor mad woman for the ultimate act of insanity; doing harm to the innocent beings she loved most in the world. Doesn't anyone else think, in her rare moments of lucidity, if she has any, that she suffers enough?
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Posted by: Scott | June 22, 2006 10:28 AM
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Posted by: Harris County Resident | June 22, 2006 03:54 PM
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Posted by: Matthew Lofton | June 28, 2006 12:34 AM
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