A Tough Road Ahead for Yates' Jurors
As expected, it took a Texas trial judge just 10 hours over one long day to select a jury in the murder retrial of Andrea Yates, the Houston mother who drowned her five children in the bathtub of their home in June 2001. This despite the fact that every single one of the 120 people chosen for voir dire said they were, in the words of the Houston Chronicle's Peggy O'Hare, "familiar with her case in some way."
But defense attorneys are smiling anyway, at least for the time being, because of the some of the comments made by those jurors. The Associated Press reports that "about 20 potential jurors said they had already decided Yates was legally insane without hearing any evidence." Several other potential jurors, the AP says, "questioned the legal issue at the heart of the case, saying they disagreed with the state's definition of insanity." That may be relevant later because the definition of legal insanity under Texas law is among the narrowest in the nation.
I do not envy the eight men and seven women of the jury (there are 12 jurors and three alternates). They are in for an horrific trial in which they will be required to see images and hear descriptions of events that no one should ever have to see or hear. They will never again look at their own children the same way again. They will never even be able to look at other people's children the same way again. They will learn more than they ever wanted to know about post-partum depression. They will get a glimpse into home-schooling and religion and the role it may have played in what happened on that awful late spring day. And in the end they will be required to choose a distinct path and direction from the intersection of the law and medicine; madness and reality. It will be awful duty.
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Posted by: SandyK | June 24, 2006 03:47 PM
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