Justice for Andrea Yates

It took over four years but the criminal justice system in Texas finally got it right. Andrea Yates, described at the time of the killing of her children as one of the most severely mentally ill patients ever encountered, finally was recognized as such by a jury which took the time to consider what must have happened (or not happened) inside Yates' mind that morning in June 2001 to cause her to seek out and destroy those she loved most in life.

There is no victory here. Yates will be sent to a heavily-guarded mental health facility, where she will probably spend the rest of her life. From time to time she will be evaluated. And, if past is prologue, every time her medicine allows her to regain a little bit of sanity she will realize what she did to her beloved children and then descend again back into some sort of madness. So this story started as a tragedy and continues as a tragedy even with though the defense finally won the day.

The difference between this trial, and the 2002 trial which resulted in a quick conviction, is clear. In this trial the defense was better able to humanize Andrea Yates, to focus upon the fact that she was a loving mother until she did this unspeakable thing to her children, and also then to convince jurors that the act of killing your children the way she did, after taking such good care of them, meets the very definition of an insane act.

Yates also got this verdict because jurors focused more during this trial on her mental health history of severe pychosis and post-partum depression, and upon the testimony of all the experts who said that Yates clearly did not plan the event or understand in those horrible moments that what she was doing was wrong. And clearly, unlike the first trial, where jurors took fewer than four hours to convict, the jury didn't buy the prosecution's theory that Yates knew right from wrong just because she dialed 911 when the deeds were done.

Now what? Well, keep in mind that because this trial only involved the deaths of three of the five children that Yates killed we could technically see another murder trial that focuses upon those two other children. But that's really a longshot scenario now that a jury has come back and declared that Yates was legally insane. Still it is there for prosecutors if they want to travel down that path- indeed, they separated out those two other deaths from these initial trials just in case things didn't go their way.

I hope, however, that the State just simply gives up on this case and recognizes that it is legally possible for an otherwise good person to do a horrible thing in a moment of madness. Otherwise, there is simply no point in having an insanity defense anywhere, at any time, in any case.

By Andrew Cohen |  July 26, 2006; 2:00 PM ET
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Why is there no outrage in these cases that the State wastes alot of money on a high profile case that should clearly be plea bargained to not-guilty by reason of insanity. Even if the state had won, no more justice would of been done. There was no reason for this extreme waste of resources.

Posted by: Geoff at G-town Law | July 26, 2006 02:20 PM

This is exactly the problem with the insanity defense. You get a woman who kills her children, and society congratulates a jury for sparing her a conviction because there must be something wrong with a woman who kills her own children. If a man had committed this crime, society would have been calling for his head on a platter. There was ample evidence that this was premeditated and that Andrea Yates knew what she was doing was wrong, yet it is easier for us all to accept that she was mentally ill. Mental illness should be considered in sentencing, not in the guilt phase of trials.

Posted by: Woodley | July 26, 2006 02:22 PM

This is truly a bit of justice in Texas. Finally. Justice is a rare commodity here, and we all have to be pleased when it is dispensed. Our high security mental health facilities are true snakepits, but from time-to-time, miraculous things happen in them. Perhaps, Ms. Yates is due for a miracle.

Posted by: Mark in Austin | July 26, 2006 02:30 PM

Paragraph 2, second sentence:

Yates will be sent to heavily-guarded mental health facility, where she will probably spend the rest of her life.

I think you mean "a" heavily-guarded...

Proofread before posting...

Posted by: Josh | July 26, 2006 02:43 PM

I do not understand why we allow sane or insane people to kill. Any sane person who kills is insane anyway. When a person kills, and a child no less, they are insane. Our laws are governed by the knowledge of right and wrong at a social moral level. If we do not base line the law we cannot uphold it. I do agree with capital punishment in these cases. She probably does not want to live anyway.

Posted by: Tom | July 26, 2006 02:43 PM

Someone should throw her sorry ass in a tub of water and hold her down until she drowns, drag her out and repeat it four more times and then just leave her floating there. (don't forget to dial 911)Only then would justice truly be served. Some people are alive only because it's against the law to kill them.

Posted by: Jeff Reid | July 26, 2006 02:44 PM

why was she on trial for killing 3 of her kids and not the other 2.

Posted by: interested party | July 26, 2006 02:46 PM

Andrew Cohen: What a false sense of security you have in people. More likely you are suffering from not having experienced real crime or tragedy in your life. If they were your children, could you waste time thinking about her state of mind at the time? The point is: whether she was insane or not, doesn't matter. She killed them and that is true. She should be treated the same as her victims.

Posted by: The Hawk | July 26, 2006 02:47 PM

Your article disgusts me. The bottom line is justice was absent from the court room today. You can find a 'moment of madness' everyday. If we all used it as an excuse for murder then we wouldn't have much of a society would we? The fact that articles such as yours contribute to the type of moral relativism that is weakening our society day by day causes you no concern, I'm sure.

Posted by: Matt in Atlanta | July 26, 2006 02:49 PM

"Otherwise, there is simply no point in having an insanity defense anywhere, at any time, in any case. "
I agree wholeheartedly, lets just get rid of the insanity defense. I mean, if you think killing people that committed no offense at all is the RIGHT THING TO DO, then I don't want you capable of following through on that thought. I'd feel better about freeing a killer that knew what he was doing was wrong, than free someone who was so mentally or emotionally messed up to think it was the right thing. I'd seriously feel safer around the one that knew it was wrong....
This is not justice, her children died for nothing and her punishment will be light...who knows, in the future she may think its the right thing to do to kill staff or other patients locked up in whatever mental facility she goes to and follow through. Plus this verdict just makes it that much easier for others in the future to use this backwards and very wrong defense and get away with murder.

Posted by: Mike in Pasadena Tx | July 26, 2006 02:50 PM

re comments by Geoff, the State (any state) will never plea bargain to innocent.

Posted by: Jim in Texas | July 26, 2006 02:51 PM

In my understanding, putting her on trial for only 3 out of the 5 allows them have 2 chances at convicting her, if there was a mistrial or something along those lines.

Posted by: Oliver | July 26, 2006 02:52 PM

Not sure how the law is worded in Texas, from from a psychological standpoint, premeditation and insanity are not mutually exclusive. Insanity is a warped capacity to appreciate the consequences of actions, not the inability to form the actions themselves.

That's why not all people who kill are insane, as another poster suggested. If a killer takes out an insurance policy on the life of his victim, then kills the victim with the intent to take the money, there's a rational--if cold-blooded and unjustifiable--reason for doing it. The question, then, is whether you believe this was a calculated and reasoned action to reach a desired result, or the act of a woman who did not understand the nature of what she was doing.

Posted by: Adam | July 26, 2006 02:52 PM

It seems that the justice system is out to get people like Ms. Yates. It was obvious from the begining that this woman was not sane. Mental disorders are more common than people realize and when they are not treated or diagnosed the consequences can become tragedies. The system should be develop a better system to clearly establish if people accused of crimes are insane or not without wasting too many tax dollars.

Posted by: Mrs. Perez | July 26, 2006 02:54 PM

The woman killed her own children. This should be the very definition of insanity. To have spent $350,000 prosecuting her by Harris County is the criminal act.

Posted by: Will Hunter | July 26, 2006 02:54 PM

From your last paragraph.

"...legally possible for an otherwise good person to do a horrible thing in a moment of madness"

How can there ever be any circumstances where it is "legally possible" to murder your 5 children in cold blood?

Posted by: Jake | July 26, 2006 02:55 PM

how dare anyone call this justice! SHE KILLED 5 CHILDREN! does it matter what she was thinking? what was going through the minds of the children when their mother held them underwater? i really think some people have forgotten about this. she should die- she has lost her right to live.

Posted by: T in Ga | July 26, 2006 02:56 PM

humanity is no more then a reflection of the society in which we live

Posted by: S.Lance Beatty | July 26, 2006 02:57 PM

Like Susan Smith, Adrea Yates has constructed a prison for herself that contains such hell and sorrow that no man-made prison could equal. Sane or not (and I believe not), this woman's only respite is the off-chance there's an afterlife. The jury has made a just and right decision. For those of you who disagree; well, you are just wrong.


Posted by: Gregwrites | July 26, 2006 02:57 PM

Maybe justice was served for Andrea Mr. Cohen but you left out one troubling part of this story. I suppose we should just assume that Andrea only became mentally ill after the 5th baby was born. I believe if the truth be told, she was probably ill long before the 5th child. Why don't we now put her husband Rusty on trial as an accessory to the crimes. Explain to me how a husband continues to have children (5 total) with a woman who obviously has serious mental issues. I never was completely satisfied with either Rusty's grief and/or disposition during this episode. It sure did not take him very long to divorce and get married again.

Posted by: Lynn | July 26, 2006 02:58 PM

Ironic, how the very people calling for Andrea Yate's execution are the same people who applaud George Bush's murderous illegal war in Iraq, which has killed far far more innocent children than 5.

Posted by: Alexandra | July 26, 2006 02:59 PM

I don't care who you are , how crazy, insane you are , you DON'T kill children, she should've been sentenced to death, I am very upset with this verdict...

Posted by: Amber | July 26, 2006 02:59 PM

There needs to be a merging of insanity findings and capital level murder. Ms. Yates may be deemed insane , but she must ALSO be deemed accountable for the "premeditated state" of taking the life of another human being. We MUST be intelligent enough to find legislation that permits trial by Jury in capital cases as this one, and that empowers victims in the United States to some basic level of respect or dignity. Otherwise, these precious children will have died in vane.

Posted by: Roberts , B.J. | July 26, 2006 02:59 PM

I offer the reader to review Mark Twain's Short story "The Insanity of the Insanity Plea" -- Bravo to my home state of Texas - the final verdict of insanity appropro. BTW - Mr. Cohen,excellent piece of writing. My sentiments exactly. Sorry it took 4 years. Sorrier for Mr. Yates.

Posted by: Kathleen Keane | July 26, 2006 03:01 PM

So Andrea Yates was finally shown some understanding and compassion . . . it's too little too late -- she could have used some understanding and compassion a few years ago from those around her, especially her clueless, self-righteous, macho husband.

And where is Rusty Yates, who kept her pregnant and isolated, who gave her virtually no help with 5 small children and who refused to acknowledge - or even consider - that she was visibly disintegrating a little more every day?

He has conveniently divorced Andrea and now has moved on to start a fresh new life with a new wife! (Seems to be in keeping with his character . . .)

Sadly, there is no justice for Rusty Yates, the guy who stood by and did nothing while his wife, the mother of his children, fell deeper and deeper into madness to the point of no return.

Sleep well, Rusty?

Posted by: jen | July 26, 2006 03:02 PM

Thank God. Justice has been done. I agree with Lynn. Now it is time to deal with Rusty.

Posted by: L in Georgia | July 26, 2006 03:02 PM

What I find interesting about human nature is our desire to emulate those who do acts we find abhorrent by inflicting those acts upon the perpetrator. We flatter them.

Posted by: Human Nature | July 26, 2006 03:02 PM

As a society, we need to move beyond the motive of a criminal act. The evil child molester that rapes and kills a child must be insane by the same logic. I really don't care about the why's of these horrible crimes. If you murder, your life should be forfeit. Period. End of story. Commiting to a hospital allows for a possibility that she will be released at some future date, since all she now must prove is that she is no longer insane and a danger to herself. That is not justice.

Posted by: Jesse | July 26, 2006 03:03 PM

Thanks for pointing exactly who received justice in all of this, because quite frankly I would have said nobody. I am not sure what is sadder, that a 5 time killer is the only one who got justice, or that fact that you seem so satisfied about it.

Posted by: Mike | July 26, 2006 03:05 PM

How dare you declare this justice!!! She is a murderer who knows right from wrong!
She should have been given the death sentence, period. This is such a heinous crime that the dealth penalty for her would not have been justice for those children. This case has made a mockery of our judicial system and I am very disappointed in the court.

Posted by: Katie | July 26, 2006 03:05 PM

If she was sane she should be executed as punishment. If she was insane, she should be executed to remove her defective genes from the gene pool.

Posted by: 2cents | July 26, 2006 03:06 PM

She's guilty and she should suffer like those children did. Bring her to the point of drowning, and repeat it over and over every day for the rest of her life.

Posted by: Larry Reynolds | July 26, 2006 03:07 PM

This is rediculous. Anybody who is capable, even in the most insanely desperate moment of their life, of doing what she did to those babies deserves to live in torture and misery forever. I do not support an insanity defense for anybody at all. If they did it once, they are capable of doing it again. Just imagine if they ever let her out - if some judge someday decides to let her go free. The thought of it sickens me beyond description. Andrea Yates, Susan Smith and all the other monsters in the world deserve to be shown what their victims went through before dying. I've finally lost the last shred of faith or hope that I've held onto concerning our legal system. There aren't words to say how dissappointed I am in human kind that there are people who are paving the way for her chance at freedom someday.

Posted by: Laure Berea, KY | July 26, 2006 03:10 PM

I'm very much relieved by this verdict. Andrea Yates was clearly severely mentally ill when she killed her children -- so ill that she was incapable of any rational or emotional consideration of the consequences. The saddest part of the story is that if her extended family had taken her mental illness with the full seriousness it warranted, her kids might very well still be alive and Yates's illness might have been successfully treated. Instead, five people are dead and a sixth is probably permanently incapacitated.

If anything, I hope Andrea Yates's story will get people to wake up and take notice when a relative or friend is obviously becoming suicidal, violent, or disabled by symptoms of mental illness.

Posted by: Julie Stahlhut | July 26, 2006 03:10 PM

Woodley (2:22 pm) has the right idea. The defendant's state of mind should have nothing do to with whether or not she is guilty. There is no question that she is guilty of murder.

And Josh of 2:43 pm: I think you spelled your name wrong.

Posted by: Lisa S | July 26, 2006 03:13 PM

I see no justice here. Just money and life wasted.


Posted by: NoJustice | July 26, 2006 03:13 PM

"From time to time she will be evaluated. And, if past is prologue, every time her medicine allows her to regain a little bit of sanity she will realize what she did to her beloved children and then descend again back into some sort of madness."
She's being more than adequately punished, since that seems to be what most of these posts here seem to be seeking, those of you with the ability to cast the first stone...
Perhaps we as a society are somewhat to blame, for the horrid way we treat our mentally ill population. We're the first to treat a common cold with the utmost respect and care, but mental illness is shunned and considered a self-wrought problem, even when it indeed has an equally physical/biological cause.

Posted by: Terri in Denver | July 26, 2006 03:13 PM

I know this case..
Ever here of a pill called Effexor?
Look again. This was the MEDICATION given to a woman seeking help. Her Doctor tried to HELP her. Evryone around her tried to help her. The her Effexor was discontinued. Now she had no help. Cold turkey. Now go look up the websites on Effexor. See how many have killed themselves or hurt someone they love.
The only thing this trial lacked WAS justice.
No arrests for the drug makers, who knew of its side-effects on withdrawl, No arrests of the FDA agents who said "this is a safe Medication" because they owned stock in the company. No accountability of the US govenment because they are protecting big busniess.. and not the people.

And no help at ALL from the Cowardly American people that are so caught up in their little world that they wont see how far WE have fallen. I say We, Im American too, Im not proud of it. We have failed these children in the extream. We were suposed to protect them, but Money was worth more than their lives. Im gessing this wont get posted, Shame too.. Mabey someone else would wake up.

Posted by: Erick | July 26, 2006 03:14 PM

This is not justice -- this is the exact OPPOSITE of justice. If Andrea Yates were a man instead of a woman who'd systematically murdered his five children one-by-one, both the media and the public would be crying out for his head on a plate ... and rightly so. There would not even be the HINT of "not guilty by reason of insanity" -- he'd just get the spike, with TV talking heads like Nancy Grace and John Walsh fanning the flams from day one.

And no, I'm not a supporter of Bush's war ... just someone who believes that gender equality in our society means equality in ALL things -- including the "blind" scales of justice.

Posted by: J in GA | July 26, 2006 03:15 PM

to J in Ga: ya sure? Because I'd bet good money you voted for King George both times. You fit the mold exactly--the hatred oozes out of you.

Posted by: Alexandra | July 26, 2006 03:18 PM

I'm amused by this comment above: "If she was insane, she should be executed to remove her defective genes from the gene pool." Let's carry this to its logical extreme: If one of her children had survived, that child should be killed, too.

The bloodthirst shown throughout this thread suggests why it was so hard to outlaw lynching.

Rule of law, not rule of man or rule of mob.

Posted by: adamsj | July 26, 2006 03:18 PM

I am strongly opposed to this verdict as well as the war Bush is waging.

Posted by: Laure | July 26, 2006 03:20 PM

I believe that this is justice at it's best. She didn't hide what she did. This woman SCREAMED for help and was unheard. If she belongs in prison, so do the people she turned to for help.

Posted by: Tammy SC | July 26, 2006 03:22 PM

What sickens me is that with this verdict, there is a chance that she could be released back into society. Our judicial system needs to make sure that this woman never is able to physically have anymore children or even adopt them. Five children's deaths are more than enough because of this woman!

Posted by: iia | July 26, 2006 03:24 PM

I think that too many people are judging this story to quickly. I work and a mental health distress centre in Candada and deal with situations concerning mental health on a daily basis...and yes this includes women with severe post partum such as Andrea Yates. Many of other responses here seem to have no understading of the full toll that this mental health issue can have a on a mother. Not fulling being able to control what you are doing and thinking is only a small portion of the symptoms. It is unfortunate that in our Western Society Post pardum is not more accpeted and treated. These women need help and in the US and Canada these supports can be hard to find and access. As well women are afraid to ask for help because of the stigma of mental health. I want to know where her long term support was since she ahd been in a psychiatric hospital on multiple occasions. It seems to me she slipped through the cracks and no one cared until she killed her children...she may get the help she needs now but its already too late for her and her children. The next time someo of you encounter a new mother who seems exhasuted, needy and scared..reach out and help her don't stigmatize her and wait until it is too late for help. Education and compassion is the key.

Posted by: Megend | July 26, 2006 03:24 PM

Only a bleeding heart liberal can find justice in the Yates verdict today. Anyone who excuses murder, under any circumstance, is the insane person in this case.

Posted by: | July 26, 2006 03:28 PM

to Erick- You have got to be kidding me. To assume that Andrea Yates' difficulties can be blamed on withdrawal from Effexor is absurd! Ever heard of post-partum psychosis? I am a psychiatrist, and I am delighted with this verdict. Andrea Yates has an illness that NONE of us would wish on anyone, and it has had tragic results. Her life is effectively over. We would be inhumane monsters to confine her to prison after all of this.

Posted by: Becky | July 26, 2006 03:32 PM

Justice was not done in this case, for the simple reason that condoning murder for any reason is a crime against all those who are murdered in the future. The death penalty in this case protects society not only from Andrea Yates (for whom I feel sorry) but from other men and women who will use this ruling to rationalize acting on their own depression, rage or confusion with similar tragic consequences.

I have been in a situation for a long time, where I could rationalize an act of murder, not only because of a damaged state of mind, but for other compelling reasons (my wife committed adultery with her old 8th grade music teacher and they tried to get custody of my 12-year-old daughter). However, my sense of right and wrong, along with my responsibility to my children kept me from acting. With less dire consequences the rationalization for killing is lowered.

Sanity is not only subjective, but it is relative. The circular logic of "if she killed her own children she's crazy" is a DANGEROUS one. To an unbalanced mind it can be appealing, maybe even offer a solution.

Posted by: Withan | July 26, 2006 03:34 PM

If Andrea Yates is truly "innocent", then why must she be locked up? She is "innocent", so then why not set her free, like you would any truly "innocent" person, right? If Yates is truly "innocent", then the proponents of the insanity defense wouldn't feel the need to assure everybody that she is going to spend to the rest of her life in confinement. This is a fallacy of logic the believers of the insanity defense can never provide an answer for. Logical consistency is the Hobgoblin of every lousy idea there is.

The title of this blog entry "Justice For Andrea Yates", is a tragic lie and a good example of how psychiatry has ruined our judicial system and our society in general. No, the jury in this case did not get it right. We can't pick and choose when we are personally responsible for our criminal behavior, and this jury verdict is a good example of the moral hazard of allowing an adult to escape responsibility for doing an inexcusable wrong.

Andrea Yates was quite willing to accept responsibility for her inexcusable crimes, but almost nobody else wants to accept the fact that she did what she did and should be punished for it. All of Andrea's talk about "Satan" and "Hell" after she committed her crimes are metaphors for being punished for having done something wrong and demonstrate a willingness to accept responsibility. Not surprisingly, everybody who believes in the psychiatric ideology sees Andrea's feelings of guilt and her willingness to accept responsibility for her inexcusable crimes as a symptom of her "illness".

The lengths to which people go out of their way to not see a couple at war with each other in the Andrea Yates case simply knows no bounds. A resisting Andrea was dragged forcibly against her will to a local psychiatric clinic by her husband Russell on two occasions in the three months leading up to the drownings. What Russell's violence against his ex-wife and Andrea's resistance to it speak to is a classic example of two parents in conflict. When parents fight, their children always lose.

Of course, the possibility that Andrea might have been motivated by revenge against her ex-husband has been strenuously avoided in most of the discussion of this case. Russell knew this. When he made it to their home the day of the drownings he yelled out to Andrea, "How could you do this to me?" He knew what Andrea had done that day was aimed at hurting him, but he has worked over time to rewrite the story ever since. Psychiatric character assassination of a woman is the last refuge of every abusive husband. Unfortunately, it has allowed Russell Yates to get away with appearing to be a "caring" husband who only wanted to "help" his "sick" wife get better.

If Andrea had killed her husband, I would be willing to call it self-defense and agree that she is innocent. He is much bigger than Andrea and he did violence to her on at least two occasions in the lead up to the drownings. But self-defense must be the only defense for the use of lethal violence. It is very dangerous to allow the kind of psychiatric excuse making that has permeated the Andrea Yates case throughout. This verdict represents a horrible injustice for all defenseless children who have been victims of the violence of adults.

Posted by: James | July 26, 2006 03:35 PM

Justice for Andrea Yates?

That is just about the most ridiculous statement that can be made following the outcome of this trial. Justice was not served in any form in the outcome of this case, not for the American legal system and most certainly not for the innocent children that were murdered as a result of actions that can be only described by one word, evil.

Unfortunately however the term evil has been replaced by "mental illness."

Of course Andrea Yates is mentally ill, how could someone who willingly murders her children be anything other then mentally ill. The fact that her mental illness was used as an excuse for why she should not be found guilty is almost as despicable of an act as the crime against humanity that was committed by Mrs. Yates.

The outcome of this trial legitimizes the heinous act of infanticide and signifies that a free pass should be given to the premeditated murder of innocent children due to the disgusting theory that the trials and tribulations associated with parenthood may be too extreme of a cross to bear.

No Justice was not served, with this case. It was abandoned.

Posted by: Joseph Bosolt | July 26, 2006 03:35 PM

I believe that Rusty Yates had complicity in all of the tragic events. He had an obligation to make sure that the caretakers of this children was mentally healthy and to stop foisting babies on her with little help and coping skills. He shares blame in this tragedy and will go unpunished -- another tragedy

Posted by: Marie | July 26, 2006 03:35 PM

As for her punishment, our Hebrew/Christian society can never condone rampant acts of revenge. Torturing Andrea Yates is unChristian and anti-American. She should be put to death by a simple method, without any attempt to deliberately increase her anguish or pain.

Posted by: Withan | July 26, 2006 03:38 PM

Here's my question. Why did they keep having kids, knowing full well that Andrea suffers from severe post-partum depression after she gives birth? Why make a bad situation worse with decisions like that, and home-schooling?

I'd like to see her husband take some responsibility for these choices. He may not have been criminally negligent - but really, if they make us take a test before driving a car, they should issue licenses for parenthood too. I also read that someone else had to convince her husband to move them out of a trailer and into a real home, because Andrea was so badly affected by post-partum illness.

I really don't understand a family that keeps doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result. *That* is a definition of insanity, too.

Posted by: | July 26, 2006 03:38 PM

Becky, you've got to be the one who's kidding. "After all this"? After all what? After all what? After she pulled her children - kicking and screaming and crying - into a bathroom and held them down in the water with her own hands until they died? After she made them breathe in water that had been defacated, urinated and vomited in by the children she had killed in there before as their little bodies just gave up? After she let those babies die looking into the face of the one person on earth who should NEVER, NEVER hurt them, the one person they should have been able to trust to keep them from any and all harm? After all of that? She deserves more than prision. She deserves to know what those children went through in their final seconds of life. She deserves to know the pain, physical and emotional, that they experienced. She's the inhumane monster, and she deserves to be treated as such.

Posted by: Laure | July 26, 2006 03:40 PM

I'm amazed at how few Christians there are out there. Christ said, "He who is without sin cast the first stone." Judge not, lest you be judged.

Andrea was obviously very ill and still is. What was an injustice was the way that she was treated as a mentally ill person while married to her husband and having her children...living in a bus, teaching the children at home, having a baby almost every year while she was obviously suffering.

This woman needed care. She was failed and the result was the death of her children.

When you point a finger, six point back at you.

Are prisons are full of folks who need care.

Posted by: wisconsinite | July 26, 2006 03:40 PM

I think it likely that the finding of insanity as to the killing of three of the victims would collaterally estop the state from charging her with responsibility for the killings of the other two, absent some showing of different circumstances -- a showing that I think would be difficult to make.

Posted by: Bob | July 26, 2006 03:41 PM

I am truly amazed at the bloodlust being shown in these posts. I wonder if a blog like this will encourage the prosecutors to take another chance on getting 12 of you onto a jury.

It does seem that those calling for Andrea's head focus only on the horror of her children's last moments, and not at all on what lead up to those moments. All the psychiatrists -- for the prosection included -- agree that she was severely mentally ill with postpartrum psychosis when she acted. Her husband (the children's father) agrees - his family agrees - her family agrees. The only question was whether she met the "legal" definition of insane. On that question, the jury has now spoken loudly and clearly.

Justice was not done -- the only way true justice could have been done in this case was for her obvious pleas for help to be answered. Once the family kept her from effective support, the children were doomed. At that point, the question was simply whether Andrea should go to jail or to a mental institution. This jury got that part right.

And to those who fear she might "get out" someday -- I hope so. If she can get stabilized, let her try to rebuild some semblance of a life that would make her children proud.

Posted by: KJS | July 26, 2006 03:41 PM

As for Randy:

Obviously he is partially responsible and has at least acted in a reckless manner with disregard for his wife and children's welfare and safety. Under our system of law as it is today, he should spend some time in prison.

It is important to remember that our duty lies in protecting the innocent, without so much thought to "fairness" for the guilty. For this reason, I believe Randy should receive the death penalty so that other father's will not think they can escape the consequences of allowing their children's caregiver to reach this point with such tragic circumstances.

Posted by: Withan | July 26, 2006 03:42 PM


Our prisons...

I slept 4 hours last night and drove 16 of the last 36. I apologize.

Posted by: wisconsinite | July 26, 2006 03:45 PM

A cheerleader for cruelty (We want torture! We want blood! We want to grind her face in the mud!) asks this question: "If Andrea Yates is truly 'innocent', then why must she be locked up?" There's a simple answer: Because she _isn't_ innocent.

She obviously killed those children, and steps have to be taken--in fact, have been taken and continue to be taken--to protect society from the possibility of future acts which she might take.

She isn't _guilty_, either. The court determined that she wasn't capable of understanding what she did. She was not a psychopath, who recognizes that his actions are evil and carries them out anyway, but an insane person.

Thus the verdict: Not guilty _by reason of insanity_.

Not innocent, but not guilty, not responsible in a legal sense, either.

She's restrained and imprisoned for the protection of society. The chances that she'll ever be a free woman again are slim to none. In theory, that's not punishment. In fact, she'll suffer every day of her life.

I'm sure that's not enough for some people. Tough.

Posted by: adamsj | July 26, 2006 03:45 PM

"Otherwise, there is simply no point in having an insanity defense anywhere, at any time, in any case."

I have an officially documented mental illness, and I believe there *is* no point in having an insanity defense. Period. If you do the crime, you do the time.

Posted by: Heather | July 26, 2006 03:46 PM

"Temporary insanity" is an oxymoron. "Insanity" means the absolute incapacity to understand the nature of what one is doing, i.e., not even having the capacity to know that when the police are urgently needed, one is supposed to call 911. You can talk about diminished responsibility or mitigation in sentencing or a whole host of other things, but calling this "insanity" is a profound corruption of the language. As is, of course, stating that it is "justice" to find a murderer not guilty of his/her crimes.

Posted by: Edward | July 26, 2006 03:48 PM

How could you call it justice?

As a mother, I weep for those children she murdered. Why shouldn't she feel the full extent of what she did to her children, every minute every hour, everyday, for the rest of her miserable life?

And the husband should be in jail right along with her. He claims she did something that day that she would never dream of doing on any other day.

Is he really that stupid? Or is he insane as well? Give me a break!

The one child she killed tried to escape and she ran after him and put him back in the tub.

What was all that hooey about severe post-partum psychosis? Psychiatrists claimed that she got worse after each child. Couldn't the husband buy condoms to prevent further pregnancies?

I certainly hope that she is heavily guarded for the rest of her life. I hope that includes not being able to get pregnant again.

Because she may become insane for a day somewhere down the road and murder more kids.

I guess one thing we can be thankful for is that she wasn't a preschool teacher or a babysitter. How many more childrens' blood would be on her hands?

Posted by: muldrake | July 26, 2006 03:49 PM

Having to live everyday with what she has done is worse than any other punishment out there. I cannot imagine that she is able to have a peaceful night's sleep without reliving the nightmare of her actions.

What I truly do NOT understand is Mr. Yates. I can respect him for granting her forgiveness. But to say that she is his "friend" is beyond my comprehension. I would never consider someone who violently ended the lives of the most precious beings in the world to be my "friend."

Posted by: Sue in So. MD | July 26, 2006 03:50 PM

To Becky- Ill tell you what, You are correct. Her condition was part of the problem, The medication withdrawls the other. I challange anyone to take Effexor at 150mg dose per day for 3 months and then just stop. See what it does to you. But I noticed that not one person has argued that we as a society faild these children. Or govenment dosent care about us, nor do we care about our fellow man, Business can do no wrong. Or have you not noticed that they are passing a law that will prevent you from sueing the drug companys? ever hear "Of the people, By the people, FOR the people"? Not in this country.. no its "For the busniess" things like this will continue untill we as a whole take a part in our future, and the care of our fellow man. Justice? Your getting what the government says you can have. Nothing more or less.

Posted by: Erick | July 26, 2006 03:50 PM

So, as a society, we should take revenge on those that take other's lifes? That is what many of you seem to be saying. Is that the proper role of society in this day and age? Haven't we progressed beyond revenge as punishment? Her husband, the father of her children, is enough of a Christian to not call for her death, why do you have to be so blood thirsty? What exact benefit will society reap, other then pure and simple hateful revenge by executing Ms. Yates? She is absolutely mentally impaired.

Those who say that her punishment is light really should take a look at the mental health facility where she will be imprisoned, for life, yes for life, despite what you may think, she will never be released.

Posted by: Houston, TX | July 26, 2006 03:50 PM

Re Russell Yates: He was at best a manipulative control freak, at worst an abuser. He absolutely bears moral culpability for the children's deaths -- in my opinion, more moral responsibility than Andrea, much more.

Posted by: KJS | July 26, 2006 03:51 PM

Cheerleaders for cruelty make excuses for child murderers and demand they not be held responsible for what they did.

"Not innocent, but not guilty, not responsible in a legal sense, either".

Exactly the kind of morally bankrupt drivel I would expect from a person whose head is filled with psychiatric nonsense. The last thing we want to do is make any moral judgements about anything, because then we would have to accept the fact the conflict and evil exist in the world. It's just too much for some people to deal with, I guess.

Posted by: James | July 26, 2006 03:52 PM

Justice has not been served. Insanity is letting this woman off to live in a secure facility. She murdered, cold bloodedly, and with great malice 5 children...the only true justice for such a despicable act is if she received the same death that her children received. Justice, no way....Lets hope they don't release her in a few years and she forgets her meds...how long before any more kids she has die?

Posted by: Sue Hubbard | July 26, 2006 03:53 PM

A view from a fellow Texas mother: If you feel that you are going to harm your children, call your mother and tell her to get the kids out of the house as you aren't feeling like you can handle it. Then take a Prozac and lay on your couch watching soaps. There is no reason to kill FIVE innocent lives because you can't handle it. Andrea Yates deserves to live her life in a prison getting punished for the rest of her life. She deserves to live in fear of everyone, not to be drugged and feeling good for the rest of her life. Her husband deserves the same fate. And any journalist that thinks she is receiving the treatment she deserves needs to jump off a cliff because they are stupid! Yes, that includes you!!! Come down to Texas and see how happy we are, you'll find a whole different breed of parent down here! We actually RAISE our children, not the nanny!

Posted by: Nicole | July 26, 2006 03:53 PM

Why does Andrea Yates deserve justice???? SHE KILLED HER 5 CHILDREN! They are the ones that deserve the justice...not their mother.

Posted by: HLF in DC | July 26, 2006 03:56 PM

Yates and Cohen should be locked together and then let him decide what an "otherwise good mother" she is. I expect nothing less from your liberal slanted rag.

Posted by: DAMASCUS MD | July 26, 2006 03:58 PM

Josh get a life

Posted by: hogboss | July 26, 2006 04:00 PM

Amazing ... a little bit of justice from Texas (a state which still says that a husband can legally rape his wife)!!

How can anyone who has followed this trial not think this poor woman was clearly insane. I just don't understand why her husband wasn't charged with something. He forced her to have a fifth child after doctors told them not to have more children because of her post-partum psychosis! He did not get her proper medical assistance when she needed it. He left her alone with those poor children after she was taken off medication. Shame on Texas for not charging him with murder, too!

Posted by: Rita | July 26, 2006 04:02 PM

I'm not against holding people responsible for what they do.

I spend a considerable amount of time holding my three-year-old daughter responsible for her actions.

I don't hold her responsible in the way I would hold a sane, rational adult responsible. That would be immoral madness.

I do believe that every case has to be judged on its own merits. That's moral. You may believe that the mechanical application of a rule always produces justice. I disagree, and say instead it is _your_ belief which is immoral.

In this case, a judge and jury who had every horrible detail of this horrible crime rubbed into their faces day after day decided that the woman who committed that crime was not capable of understanding what she did at the time that she did it, by reason of insanity. As a result, she's been imprisoned, separated from society, probably for the rest of her life. That may not be an eye for an eye, but it does strike me as being both just and merciful--or, in one word, fair.

Posted by: adamsj | July 26, 2006 04:07 PM

> to J in Ga: ya sure? Because I'd bet good money you voted for King George both times.

You'd lose the bet, Alexandra -- hell, I didn't even vote for the FIRST Bush!

> You fit the mold exactly ...

Maybe that's where you went wrong -- most real people don't fit into a "mold".



Posted by: J in GA | July 26, 2006 04:09 PM

Great justice has been served for 1 out of 6 victims. This illusion of this great justice will satisfy those who did not know the victims.

Posted by: Chris C | July 26, 2006 04:11 PM

Most of these comments are from men, who have never given birth, nor experienced postpartum depression/psychosis. What she did was wrong regardless of mental state, which we all know, but where was everyone else? Does "it takes a village to raise a child" mean anything to anyone? Andrea Yates needs a hospital with treatment for a very serious and misunderstood condition. Except, we are wasting time, money and research on ridiculous health issues such as erectile dysfunction, when we should be supporting treatment and diagnosis of very real, very frightening mental health issues. This isn't a question of right or wrong, it is a question of before and after. Had her husband and families not turned a blind eye to the cries for help, and had acknowledged them, these children would be alive. But this country looks down on women, especially mothers with a mental health issues, to the point where it is swept under the rug, when we should be open and seeking the help needed. I would love to see everyone who posted here to think about their own mother, because at some time during the first few months of your life, there was a fleeting moment of stress, depression and being scared, and most moms handle it fine, but a shock to some of you, some mothers may not have handled fine and either got help or hid the guilty feelings which can turn into more stress and depression. So unless it is a situation you lived through or have seen someone in, your opinion is biased and uneducated.

Posted by: Breanne in NY | July 26, 2006 04:12 PM

I think people need to think about this more. This wasn't a case of sudden insanity. This woman was being treated by a doctor. If I recall correctly her medication was changed or stopped just days before the killing. If someone needs to be held accountable, why not the professionals? I can understand that family might not realize what's happening or not really believe it but her doctor should have some idea.

Posted by: JRP | July 26, 2006 04:12 PM

Finally Andrea may get the help she needed all along. But justice will not be done in my estimation till her husband is prosecuted for the deaths of his five children and the mental abuse of his wife.

Posted by: Peg Heglund | July 26, 2006 04:12 PM

Have you with the bloodlust ever heard of compassion? Very Christlike, really.

Posted by: Jess | July 26, 2006 04:12 PM

These blame Rusty posts prove my point exactly-- society says he should be held criminally responsible for ignoring his wife's "problems" etc., but she should not be held responsible for planning to kill her children at a time when no one should be around to stop her? You can have a mental illness and still know right from wrong. Hiding your crime or planning to do it at a time when you couldn't be stopped indicates you know right from wrong. Thus, the insanity defense is inapposite here.

It is just mindblowing to me that people can say Rusty is wrong, Andrea is right. It demonstrates the complete sexism in the insanity defense, which is most apparent in cases in which a parent murders his or her own child.

And, for the record, I am a bleeding heart liberal. That's why I urge for laws that treat men and women equally. An insanity defense that allows jurors sexist thoughts (women that kill their babies must have something wrong with them; men that kill their babies are monsters) is by its nature unequal. Again--leave the mental illness issue for sentencing, and out of the guilt phase of trials. Iowa has done this, I believe, and it is working just fine.

Posted by: woodley | July 26, 2006 04:17 PM

I have 7 grandchildren. If I saw that
one of my daughters' was in so much pain
and depression as Andrea obviously was, there would be no way that I would not intervene. Her mother in law stated that
Andrea just stood and stared in to space.
Why did she leave? Rusty knew his wife was
in a horrible mental state, why didn't he
have someone stay and help her with the children? Her whole family should be held accountable for what happened. I watched the reading of the verdict. The woman looked like she did not fully understand what was going on. No matter where she is physically, she will never be mentally sound. Her greatest punishment is the memories she will have to live with for the rest of her life. I don't know how anyone could punish her more.

Posted by: alexis | July 26, 2006 04:18 PM

Post-partum depression sometimes turns ordinary, everyday, loving moms into psychotics, literally. It happened to one of my best friends. Rather than killing her child, she tried several times to kill herself. Now, several years later, she is back to normal.

All of you writers who are calling for the death penalty for this woman, you just do not grasp what this illness does to normal people. Andrea Yates is not a monster. She is a woman who, in the grip of illness, did a monstrous thing. And her husband bears some responsibility for having seen her slide into a black depression and continued to urge her to have more children.

Posted by: Washington, DC | July 26, 2006 04:22 PM

While I agree w/this verdict, I also agree w/people who say things need to be changed. I like the French system, where someone could be found GUILTY but INSANE. Then, if at a later time one is found to be sane, the person would complete the rest of the sentence in a prison.

Their system has always made more sense to me than ours in regards to insanity and the criminal justice system.

Posted by: Kate | July 26, 2006 04:22 PM

Excellent article by Cohen. Gee these comments really show how few people understand the meaning of psychosis. A history of post partum PSYCHOSIS (not just depression), some fanatic religious husband who had her living in a bus while homeschooling 5 kids, it was a timebomb waiting to go off. Justice was served - if it makes the bloodlust people any happier - the psych hosp is no picnic either. I can't help but think of the Mary Winkler case and think that mixing an unstable woman with a religious fanatic husband is a recipe for disaster.

Posted by: sarah | July 26, 2006 04:24 PM

Yeah, the headline of this blog entry has to be the most obscene I've ever seen. This is obscene. There is simply no other word for it given the horrible injustice suffered by those five children. This is what our judicial system does now though. It seeks "justice" for wrong doers by allowing for all kinds of irrelevant excuse making for their crimes.

All I ask for is what any reasonable citizen should demand in cases like this. That a court find a defendant guilty and responsible for his/her crimes and that he/she be punished in a non-punitive manner. Non-punitive punishment excludes the death penalty and torture. We simply can't allow ourselves to be lowered to the level of a defendant in a criminal trial, and that even includes the case of the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, confessed murder of 48 women.

Any definition of torture ought to include what we call "psychiatric treatment", which now means that it is somehow all right to violate the bodily integrity of somebody deemed to be mentally ill with drugs, and possibly electric shocks. Andrea Yates now can look forward to a life time of having her bodily integrity violated with more psychiatric drugs and almost nobody will defend her right to not have toxic garbage shoved down her throat. Psychiatric confinement ("hospitalization") and torture ("treatment") are punishments and we deceive ourselves by twisting our tongues and calling them something else. Self-deception is a strong fortress though and so we must tell ourselves that Andrea Yates is "innocent", that she is "sick" and that she is getting "treatment", etc., etc.,. Anything but tell ourselves that she has done wrong and is responsible for it.

Posted by: James | July 26, 2006 04:28 PM

"Then take a Prozac and lay on your couch watching soaps."

You know nothing about mental illness.

FTR, I *also* have a documented mental illness, and I think justice was done. (As well as believing there's a place for the insanity defense.) If that makes me a bleeding heart liberal, then I've never been prouder to wear that label.

As for Rusty....I fully believe in karma, and he will get what he deserves. It may take until he dies, and if so, I hope he enjoys his stay in hell.

Posted by: | July 26, 2006 04:35 PM

Becky. What you assume Erick assumes is not absurb at all. Indeed, if you are a Doctor then you have to know Effexor was tested on a small number of healthy males (who were also given a Valium equivalent in the early studies) -- Testing did NOT include females or children. No post partum females no menopausal females, no perimenopausal females and no children for that matter were test subjects prior to FDA approval. This is an outrage and helps explain studies which confirm that doctor errors re drugs are killing people. A lot more than the five Yates children have been harmed by the modern drug profiteering.

Neither Wyeth nor the FDA knew what would happen to women or children who were prescribed Effexor. Effexor to people in states of significant hormonalally altered states of mine is, simply, the equivalent of brain poison.

The FDA blessed the drug without knowing what it does. Government ineptness aside, that a mistake was made should not surprise anyone. It happens. It also happens that a drug, like a gun, in the wrong hands, can be dangerous, even deadly.

Ms. Yates' could not control herself; she was found to have been insane. Her insanity occurred during cold-turkey withdrawal from a psycosomatic drug similar in chemical structure to LSD. In my opinion this fact DOES matter. Further, and again in my opinion, Wyeth should be on trial for criminal negligence. Wyeth is the maker of Effexor. Wyeth is also the company which hid research telling of the 'bad' effects of it's drug. The real information was hidden from all of us -- even you as a 'doctor'. Erick was simply stating what is true for many people: Effexor is not what it is cracked up to be. I suggest you do some research Becky, because if you prescribed Effexor to women or children who "lost it" (either lost their means to continue taking it and went into withdrawal as Ms. Yates did, OR, who emotionally lost 'it' as Ms. Yates also apparently did) and committed suicide or other heinous acts then you would be morally responsible and are apt to be sued sooner or later.

Posted by: JC | July 26, 2006 04:40 PM

People blame Rusty because he bears at least some, if not more, responsibility for the situation that Andrea and the children were in.

He knew that Andrea suffered severe post-partum depression after each birth, yet still he was one-half of the couple that decided to keep on having kids - making a bad situation, and an obviously very ill mother, even worse.

How could any husband either agree to or lead such a decision? How could any husband think that living in such cramped circumstances - it took someone else to convince him to move them - with 5 kids is a decent way for anybody to live?

Denying that he has any culpability at all is just as blind as denying Andrea's guilt. She can be both guilty and insane - these aren't mutually exclusive concepts.

Posted by: | July 26, 2006 04:41 PM

"I don't hold her responsible in the way I would hold a sane, rational adult responsible. That would be immoral madness.

I do believe that every case has to be judged on its own merits. That's moral. You may believe that the mechanical application of a rule always produces justice. I disagree, and say instead it is _your_ belief which is immoral."

This is exactly what was used by defenders of slavery in debates about abolition. We can't trust the slaves with freedom because they'll go mad, the argument went. This is exactly the kind of thinking that is now used to defend involuntary commitment and the insanity defense. With freedom goes responsibility and you can't allow somebody to be free if you're not going to hold them responsible for their actions. You're thinking is a good example of hard core bigotry of low expectations. Certain adults must be exempted from the responsibilities of adulthood, you say, and you refuse to accept the moral hazard involved in doing this. I'm not surprised that you would mention a 3-year-old in a debate about an adult who has killed children. We're not talking about a child here. This is the kind of morally bankrupt thinking that leads to slavery.

Holding an adult responsible for killing five defenseless children is "immoral". This kind of thinking is what is condemning our society to moral ruin.

Posted by: James | July 26, 2006 04:42 PM

What will be the legal consequence for Dr. Park Dietz, the psychiatrist who LIED when testifying?

Posted by: A Mom | July 26, 2006 04:44 PM

If she was truly the "most severely mentally ill patients ever encountered" then why was she not under a psychiatrist's care and being treated for post-partum depression and severe psychosis? My question is simply this: where was the husband during all of this? Did he not see what was going on with his wife? Mental illness has symptoms... severe mental illness would most definitely have symptoms that anyone could see. She knew what she was doing and as far as I'm concerned the husband needs to be locked up and Ms. Yates needs to be composted. She's nothing more to society than waste!

Posted by: Lora from Tennessee | July 26, 2006 04:45 PM

Any person who knew Andrea and saw what she was going through, her state of mind and body - any rational person would look at her and her husband and say, STOP HAVING KIDS.

For Pete's sake - it is the only moral, compassionate, rational decision they could have made. If Andrea wasn't capable of making a rational decision about her own health or that of her kids, then Rusty should have been the one to do it.

Posted by: | July 26, 2006 04:46 PM

This is horrible. That woman in cold blood murdered her children. She should be fried.

All people who kill are insane. Why should this horrible horrible woman be spared?

I say drown her.

Posted by: N | July 26, 2006 04:49 PM

Everyone here say there is a problem with our system. I agree with Erick.. when will we stand up and fix it?

Posted by: Blake.. | July 26, 2006 04:51 PM

"where was the husband during all of this? Did he not see what was going on with his wife? "

I have seen so few in the media actually asking this question. Too busy villifying Andrea - and yes, what she did was truly heinous - to ask how on God's green earth her husband could not bear at least some responsibility for all this.

It's not like Andrea's mental state was a secret.

All this "moral ruin" stuff ... please. Weren't the Yateses right in a very red state, God's country and all? This case and its verdict have nothing to do with perceived moral ruin.

Posted by: brb | July 26, 2006 04:58 PM

I notice in the continued postings a possible factor that never showed up - RELIGION. In some variations of faith there is strict adherence to traditional roles, children are homeschooled to avoid outside influences and medical intervention isn't encouraged. Contraception would likely be discouraged also. If this was a factor Rusty and their respective families may have been relying on their faith as a solution.

Posted by: JRP | July 26, 2006 05:01 PM

This case is complex for many reasons but I feel justice has been served somewhat. I had my first 2 sons in 15 months and found I was nervous myself at times from the simple lack of sleep. That is why I used birth control after that and planned my 3rd son 3 1/2 years later. All children should be spaced enough for the mother to fully appreciate and enjoy her children. Andrea was pregnant almost every year. She had a miscarriage also. Her husband kept her in a very small space where the noise of 5 kids alone could make even a sane mother nervous. She showed previous signs of mental illness when she said she wanted to be dead. Rusty seemed oblivious to her need for a break from having children. Then top all of this off with a preacher who told her what women were supposed to feel and do as wives and mothers, and you have a recipe for disaster. Yes, it was beyond horrible what she did to innocent children. It was equally horrible that Rusty and family memebers did not take the children away from her before her mind snapped. Having lost one child myself when he was a teen to leukemia, I can tell you personally there is nothing worse on this Earth than losing a child. Andrea will live in hell for the rest of her life. I can't imagine how Rusty can sleep at night for failing her so miserably, and her doctors who let her fall through the cracks while in their care.

Posted by: mlv | July 26, 2006 05:03 PM

Yes, and I hope the church, the doctors, and the husband are all doing some deep soul-searching and being truly honest with themselves about how badly they failed Andrea.

If it is the case that religion played a role in dictating family planning choices and determining the roles husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, have to play - no deviations allowed - then maybe it's time to take a long hard look at that and be honest about what needs to change in order to prevent horrendous tragedies like this from happening again.

Posted by: brb | July 26, 2006 05:09 PM

Are we better because we ourselves now understand the wrong and horror associated with it post fact? I think not, unless we do something about it.

This could have been prevented with a little extra effort. A few pills and the attention the severity of her illness deserved, would have spared the lives of every child.

If I blame anyone, I blame Dr. Mohammed Saeed for his obvious negligent care of Andrea Yates.

Posted by: Penas Sorus | July 26, 2006 05:11 PM

I believe that Texas should have a "guilty by reason of insanity" plea that leads to life in a mental health facility. There would be no option of release - ever - for people like Andrea Yates. Too often our justice system leans over backwards to "protect" people with mental illness when they commit horrible crimes. No thought is given to their victims. Would you want a "cured" Andrea Yates living next door to you and your family? What if you didn't know her history and one day she has another "episode" and kills your child? I beleive even if someone is determined to be mentally ill - if they commit murder or injury to another person -they should be removed from society. period.

Posted by: Houston Texas | July 26, 2006 05:11 PM

I really have a hard time understanding why there has been no real legal question of culpability on the part of Rusty Yates. How could he have not observed the downward spiral his wife was on. How could he have left her alone with these poor children.

I am a mother of two children. I have faced stress, depression and feelings of loneliness. I have NEVER considered killing them. Why didn't Andrea seek help and why didn't those adults around her seek it for her?

This situation is just so sad.

Posted by: LPD | July 26, 2006 05:22 PM

For the first time in memory the "Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity" legal form has been properly applied in this tragic case.

Consider the Hinckley/Reagen and the Chapman/Lennon cases where obsesion (more than mental defect) should have been the legal point to be made. Guilty by Reason of Insanity - another legal form which needs to be incorporated into the Justice system!!!

Husband Randy who himself should have been charged with murder by defect (if such a legal form doesn't exist - it should!) for his actions in getting his wife pregnant while in the midst of her Post-partum Depression, and and his inactions in putting his kids in harms way when leaving them with a wife who was in no medical condition to cope with a string of kids...

I suppose his sex needs were satisfied, as well as his religous drive to procreate (regardless of circumstances...), are I guess, in his mind, suficient to appease him. I just pity his new wife...

Posted by: Ex Houstonian | July 26, 2006 05:25 PM

I find some irony in the "justice was served" camp. If Rusty had been "depressed" and killed his kids, you same people would be calling for his head. What happened to personal responsibility? She TORTURED these kids. Drowning is a form of torture. No matter what Rusty could have done to her, I doubt it was as evil as drowning defenseless children.

She had a history of depression. She had any number of choices. She could have gotten an abortion upon finding out she was pregnant. No doctor in the nation would risk their medical license by informing the husband of such a thing. She could have gotten put onto a form of birth control that he couldn't have found out about, the shot, etc.

Ms Yates had the power in this situation. To blame her husband is ill advised and just plain wrong. It's no different than the people blaming the entertainment industry for school shootings. At some point, people need to stop looking for a scapegoat and accept responsibility for their actions.

I think Rusty Yates should be put to death too...but only because he didn't take a bat to her head after she murdered his babies. Her right to be depressed ended when she took the first child and submerged him/her underwater.

All the people who are saying "justice was served"...what if Ms Yates had been working in a preschool and she took YOUR child and held them underwater while depressed? Would you accept the hospitalization as justice? Would you be quick to blame her husband then? Or would you blame the spineless wench who drowned them?

Posted by: Eric | July 26, 2006 05:30 PM

This outcome restores my faith that justice is still occasionally dispensed, despite the Reagan revolution of our court system, even in Texas!

For all those commenters saying there was no justice for her children you should think about what justice means.

Part of the problem is with the labels they use in Texas, which I believe are intended to dissuade against finding insanity. Texas calls it "Innocent by reason of insanity." The defense would more rightly be called "not culpable by reason of insanity."
Rather than a sign of "moral decay" as some suggest, this is actually an affirmation of time-honored morality that has long been recognized in Western society and religions (it may also be in Eastern society and religions, I just don't know). This is a humane provision of the law that has been around for at least 1500 years (it was part of Greek, Roman, and Talmudic (Jewish) law).

The idea is that a person whose disease causes them to think that black is white or bad is good (i.e. that killing her children is actually helping them), even though they committed the same act, is not morally responsible in the same way that a person who rationally understands what he or she is doing.

I am not sure it is dissimilar to many other areas of the law that distinguish culpability based on level of intent. For example, we (and the law) often think one is not as accountable for hurting some one or thing accidentally or even negligently as compared to doing it recklessly or intentionally.

An additional question: what is the justice in convicting some one?

Is it to get revenge for lost lives?
If so, the system sucks, because no matter what the system does to a murderer, it does not change one bit what happened to the victim.

Deterrence is a far better justification, but you can't deter a person as mentally ill as Andrea Yates because her illness made her think what she was doing was in her childrens' best interests. She didn't think, oh, I can get off on the insanity defense anyway.

As for Rusty, I'm torn. I am no big fan of his, and as a person who has experience with friends and relatives with serious mental illness, and one who can appreciate the tolls of being couped up trying to raise multiple small children without much assistance, I find his lack of action troublesome at best. I am not sure it was criminal.

Posted by: dab | July 26, 2006 05:37 PM

She was sane enough to call the police afterwards!

Posted by: Dennis B | July 26, 2006 05:37 PM

All the people who are saying "justice was served"...what if Ms Yates had been working in a preschool and she took YOUR child and held them underwater while depressed? Would you accept the hospitalization as justice? Would you be quick to blame her husband then? Or would you blame the spineless wench who drowned them?

Depression? You clearly don't understand what the jury found. You're a depraved little creep and I hope you enjoy HELL eric!-whovian222@msn.com

Posted by: Christopher mankey | July 26, 2006 05:38 PM

Andrea & Rusty Yates were devout Christians who vowed to have as many children as God would grant them. For years they lived in a converted Greyhound bus with their three kids. Andrea Yates was a stay-at-home mom for five children, ages 7, 5, 3, 2, and 6 months, and home schooled them, to boot. Husband Rusty babysat ONE NIGHT a week. After baby #4 was born she breastfed every three hours and slept only a couple of hours a night. Her family has a history of mental illness, and she first showed signs of depression when she was 24. Every time she was released from the hospital was because of health care plan limitations, not adequacy or thoroughness of treatment.

The word "justice" has so many meanings that it is simultaneously appropriate and inappropriate for this discussion.

I cannot pretend to understand what it would be like to drown my own five children, one after the other, thinking that each one had been tainted by Satan and forever tarnished. Nor can I pretend to know what it'd be like going in and out of mental health facilities and trying twice to commit suicide. But what I do know is that we ALL failed her. The law is what it is. I can't tell you why Rusty Yates goes free while Andrea Yates sulks around a hospital, forever being tormenting herself and being judged by unknowing and unsympathetic bystanders.

All I know is that this whole story SUCKS. On all kinds of levels. For every type of person, saint or sinner. We cannot pretend to be superior to those that we cannot and will not help. Otherwise, what does that make us?

Posted by: Noonie | July 26, 2006 05:44 PM

Eric - 5:30PM

Explain to me how Ms. Yates (Actually she was Mrs. Yates until divorced last year) "..had the power in this situation."

Her mental state was such that she killed her children... How was that condition conducive to her ability to recognize her own state of mind and and take positive actions.

Your defense of her husband is indefensible in itself, in that it appears to be based on the "Husband is Right" theory, rather than the personal responsabilty he should have taken on the whole tragic circumstances.

Posted by: Ex Houstonian | July 26, 2006 05:44 PM

"She was sane enough to call the police afterwards."

That means nothing. I am neither a scientist nor a physician, but in my personal observation (and from what I have read), people who are psychotic can fluctuate between moments of lucidity and insanity. Here's an example from personal experience: After spending hours telling a friend he should not drive or go to a certain event because of his state of mind, and having him tell me I was the one who was crazy, he at one point said to me, I shouldn't go there, I'm not feeling so well.

Second, she may have known that she should call the police, but that doesn't change the fact that she thought that by killing her children, she was saving them from eternal damnation.

Posted by: dab | July 26, 2006 05:46 PM

How many of us really know the hell that Andrea lived through during the years since she was diagnoised as mentally ill? I believe she did not receive the proper care from physicians, her husband nor her family. Unless we have been to that place of insanity...how can we judge her? We can only imagine what she was thinking before and during the time she drowned her babies. And I agree with others that coming off the meds probably "pushed" her over the edge of the thin line of sanity she possessed. I think Andrea loved her children deeply. Her mental state was such that Rusty should have provided more help...and used a condom. Andrea heard voices telling her to harm her children. While my heart cries for those children, the hell that I imagine Andrea experiences when she is not in a fog of drugs is more painful than any prison would be. I hope she finds peace one day.

Posted by: A Mom in AL | July 26, 2006 05:50 PM

This monster killed her 5 children one by one chasing them down like animals. Did
we forget about that?
Andrea Yates should have gotten the death penalty and her husband Rusty is just
to blame. I don't think he should be able to walk free. He knew she was sick and
making her live under those conditions was unacceptable. They were warned NOT to
have anymore children, but yet they did, so did they really love children that much,
enough to endanger them.
Why should we have to pay our tax dollars on sick people that will never live a
normal life ever? She's a waste of life.

Posted by: Kathy NY | July 26, 2006 06:03 PM

Chalk up a victory for criminals, now Yates will spend her time in a coushy medical facility instead of a normal prison like all the other killers. Im sorry but someone who doesnt know that killing her own children is wrong is not compitant enough to stand trial. If she is sane enough to stand trial, she is sane enough to know that killing someone...anyone...is wrong. What a joke of a legal system we have when a woman can get on the stand, squeeze out a few tears, and give some sob story and get away with murder...literally. Finally, suppose Yates is NOT insaine and plotted the death of her children, it would be quite easy for her to be deemed sane by the mental facility and she could spend very little time there, perhaps 5-10 years and then be set free after being "rehabilitated". The whole judgement is a disgrace to our legal system, how many criminals will avoid the punishment for these types of crimes before these laws are changed?

Posted by: Disgusted | July 26, 2006 06:11 PM

Where's the justice for the kids? Total double standard-a man would get death. A woman gets not guilty by reason of insanity. Scumbag defense lawyers and feminists can all rejoice. Justice was not served.

Posted by: Frank | July 26, 2006 06:13 PM

I am amazed at some of the comments here. The idea that finding someone innocent by reason of insanity is somehow contrary to morality and indicative of a sort of moral bankruptcy is patently absurd. Morality demands that we differentiate those that are responsible from their actions from those that are not or are not fully. The insanity defense recognizes this as do, in fact, all major moral theories. Those suffering from insanity do not have the ability that others of us take for granted, namely the ability to do otherwise than they did. That such individuals are dangerous is (depending on the extent of the madness) cause enough to isolate them from society until such a time as they may be cured or made better but it would be inapprorpiate to condemn them morally in the same manner that we do when we punish competent individuals for intentional wrongdoing. Finding someone innocent by reason of insanity is not a rejection of morality but a recognition of its demands at least in certain cases.

Posted by: Another James | July 26, 2006 06:15 PM

Where did she get the idea that satan was possessing her? Where did she get the idea that killing her kids would save them from hell?

Andrea Yates got involved with some religious extremists who filled her mentally disturbed head with a bunch of guilt-inducing crap. I think she's guilty and deserves to die because she is too dangerous. I also think the religious couple she corresponded with should face some sort of liability as well.

Posted by: Phil Calvert | July 26, 2006 06:16 PM

"There is no victory here. Yates will be sent to a heavily-guarded mental health facility, where she will probably spend the rest of her life."

She'll do less than ten years before being released to a out-patient facility.

Look up Texas law in these cases. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 46c.

Once the head of the facility to which she is committed declares her to not be a danger to herself or others, the judge must release her to an outpatient facility within 60 days of being notified.

All of her pyschiatrists testified at her trial that when she was taking her meds, she was not a danger to herself or others. I doubt if that diagnosis will change.

She'll be out before her fiftieth birthday.

Posted by: Conor | July 26, 2006 06:25 PM

To everyone who says "she didn't know what she was doing" - Hold your head underwater for about a minute and then try and say that. Yates is a liar and a cold-blooded child murderer. I have known people with various mental illnesses and seen the effects they have on otherwise civil people, but I refuse to believe that this woman thought she was bringing her children salvation. And, even if she did TRULY believe that, that would make her even more dangerous to society. It is ok, because she will die a painful death someday.

Posted by: alex in phoenix | July 26, 2006 06:30 PM

Maybe the best thing for people like Andrea Yates is for America to become more like China. One family One baby. That way, not only will there be less post-partum depression, but sick psychotics like Yates can be put to use drowning all the excess babies to repay the taxpayers for the money they threw down to put her on trial twice.

Posted by: alex in phoenix | July 26, 2006 06:48 PM

Murder is murder. Insanity? That's legal jargon attorney's use, simply put! At the end of the day we still have a woman that murdered her five children. I cannot even rationalize the heinous act she committed under any circumstances. Insanity? I guess so -- that's what people are that commit violent crimes.... but is it really a defense? And should it allow people to escape our penal system that we pay for,through tax dollars, to protect us? I think it's a disgrace!

Posted by: Suzanne in Orlando | July 26, 2006 06:49 PM

This is scary. The Jerry Springer Show has nothing on this thread.

Posted by: PC | July 26, 2006 07:05 PM

Obviously very few people here have even the most vague notion of what post-partum craziness is, so how can we expect some hick like Randy Yates to bear responsibility. It is all a part of this PC nightmare that is obfuscating any bit of common sense and demonizing anyone who criticizes anything regarding women. I am not a conservative OR a liberal, but simply a human being. Once we all look at more situations as humans and open our minds to how things feel rather than what we're allowed or not allowed to do, then things like this will become more clear. This woman drowned her 5 kids. this woman drowned her 5 kids. this woman drowned her 5 kids. this woman drowned her 5 kids. karma is enough punishment for her, but she should still be locked up in solitary confinement and chemically castrated

Posted by: killabkilld | July 26, 2006 07:06 PM

Hogboss get a life. Why dont u leave Josh alone.

Posted by: hardcore holly | July 26, 2006 07:21 PM

Murder is murder. Insanity? That's legal jargon attorney's use, simply put! At the end of the day we still have a woman that murdered her five children. I cannot even rationalize the heinous act she committed under any circumstances. Insanity? I guess so -- that's what people are that commit violent crimes.... but is it really a defense? And should it allow people to escape our penal system that we pay for,through tax dollars, to protect us? I think it's a disgrace!

The real disgrace is people like you who lack the intelligence to understand what mental illness is!
You can't be made to understand the difference between people with geniune mental disorders and criminals who know the difference between right and wrong and don't have a organic brain disorder. What a waste you life has been so far!

Posted by: c | July 26, 2006 07:38 PM

"She'll do less than ten years before being released to a out-patient facility.

"Look up Texas law in these cases. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 46c."

This is an interesting point (if accurate), and one I'd like to see the author of the original post address.

(I don't mean any offense by the "if accurate" part, as the poster didn't sound like one of the high-tech lynch mob, but I'm leery of internet legal citations by persons unknown, particularly accompanied by villagers carrying pitchforks and torches.)

Posted by: adamsj | July 26, 2006 07:50 PM

andrew cohen's mindset is emblematic of everything that's wrong with the legal profession today. if a woman tells a good enough sob story, she can get away with murder. sorry about the kids, but hey - she sent society a message about the importance of more funding / understanding of post-partum depression, which is the more important issue, i guess.

Posted by: LLF | July 26, 2006 07:54 PM

I do agree that Andrea is insane. You would HAVE to be to kill your own children. She has finally received justice. God help her. And I agree that Rusty could have done better by helping her with the kids and seeing her signs of mental turmoil.. but to say that he needs to be or has not been punished? He lost 5 children too.. is that not punishment enough? Who of us can stand in judgement of him saying we would have had all the answers not seeing the final outcome? I know I am always tempted to think the best of others..I've been taught that all my life. Could he REALLY have forseen with clarity that she would do anything so crazy!? I would guess that he loved her and probably thought as a caring Mom that she wasnt capble of that. If he did know she was capable then you can be sure that what comes around goes around. Its not our place to judge him. Leave it to the experts!

Posted by: Staci, NH | July 26, 2006 08:05 PM

Absolutley ridiculous verdict. There is a distinction between psychotic and insane. Whatever her "rationale" for killing those innocents (son of sam claimed his dog spoke to him, insane also?)voices from the TV, warped religious logic, she knew what she planned was wrong and therefore not insane, she was simply unable to control her compulsions. After the fact she even reasoned that only killing the infant would have been enough, she was the cause of it all, a bent form of remorse. Yates took the time to lock the door, make sure her husband was gone, even decided drowning was the most efficient method because shooting was too loud and would attract attention (this is all documented in her testimony). She even removed the bathroom mat to ensure any child that got away would have no traction on the wet floor. Not pre-meditated? A momentary lapse of reason is not insanity, it's a mentally unhealthy individual giving in to her complusions. She afterwards carved the now cliche'd 666 numbers into her forehead as some kind exhibition of her aligning with the devil and being damned because she killed her children. Again, her psychosis, is not insanity. Texas law states, insanity is determined when the individual has no sense of right or wrong during the act. She did, it's self evident. Her insanity did not only exist for the duration of the killings and then dissipate. This is someone who was aware of what they were planning (make no mistake she contemplated it before acting on "saving" her children)and it's consequences. Further proof she was psychotic but certainly not insane? She would not face her husband when he arrived home and confronted her about the children, is this someone with no concept of what she'd done? This is an exhibition of remorse. Doctor Saeed, who had attended her before her atrocity, warned her husband not to leave her alone with the children, she was a danger to herself and the children. Her lawyer in closing arguments claimed this was just like an abortion, utter rubbish. She was portrayed with greasy hair, constantly looking down, disshevled, soon as the verdict was given..sparked right up. Also, watch and see, some kind of deal has been reached with the Psychiatric Instition she will be kept in. I assure you, 6 months to a year, she'll be deemed sane enough to go home. Poster girl for the "unfairly treated". A disgusting example of a society gone "insane" with not allowing anyone they deem under-representeted to take responsibility for their actions, shakey state of mind or not. Guaranteed, if this was a man that had committed this heinous act, he'd be rotting in prison in the segregated inmates section right now. Mr Cohen, your reasoning on this matter is flawed beyond measure.

Posted by: Ridiculous | July 26, 2006 08:18 PM

There is a continual stream of comments here that say more or less that the finding of innocence by reason of insanity is failure to hold the defendent accountable for her actions and is evidence of an absence of morality within America. But I am truly puzzled by the shallowness of these people's understanding of morality. The notion of holding one accountable is intimately tied to the idea of responsibility. The notion of repsonsibility is itself intimately tied to the idea that one acted in a volitional manner and could have done otherwise than one did. It assumes a certain level of rationality on the part of the agent and assumes the agent is capable of rational deliberation. But this is exactly what someone suffering from a severe mental illness lacks. The idea that we must punish criminally or even execute the mentally ill defendent in order to hold him or her "accountable" is to fundamentally misunderstand the notion of accountability - it is to apply it to a case in which the notion has no traction. And note that this is not a legal point but a moral point. What is truly frightening is not the verdict the jury reached (which I will assume is the product of a careful deliberative process) but the knee jerk self-rightousness and shallow and un-nuanced moralizing the verdict has produced in this blog thread. If the jury is to be believed (and I see no reason at the moment to doubt them) Yates' actions were the product of delusion. But what is the excuse for the blood lust that many of these commentators exhibit? It can't be a concern for humanity because that would demand a concern not only for children but also the most damaged (mentally and physically) of those around us.

Posted by: Another James | July 26, 2006 08:23 PM

Peg Heglund (04:12 PM) said all that needs to be said about this horrible situation.

Posted by: Michael in Virginia | July 26, 2006 08:28 PM

Justice? As a mother of three children I cannot imagine that even Andrea Yates feels as if justice has been served. Most parents would feel that the system had every right to lock them up, I know that I would willingly serve life or be put to death if I had committed such a heinous crime against my own children.

I fully believe that Andrea Yates was insane, however, stating that insanity is a defense for murder or worse yet an excuse is simply unforgivable. A large portion of individuals who commit murder claim insanity and regardless of our feelings on their insanity the truth is that multiple tests can be given with varying results, the only person who truly knows if they are insane is the insane individual and I don't recommend placing them on trial.

Justice could have been served in 1999 or 2000 if only Andrea would have continued taking her medication and seeing her Psychiatrist. If her husband had heeded the multitude of warnings from doctors... and not convinced his wife to have another child. If practitioners weren't in such a hurry and actually took the time to assess the patient and not declare them ok and release them.

In my opinion Andrea Yates needs help and the best place for her to receive that is in a mental hospital. Of course I also feel that her husband and the professionals who released her should also be tried and convicted of being accesories to the crime.

Posted by: mother of three | July 26, 2006 08:31 PM

the women asserting that the father is the truly guilty party is exhibit (a) that the feminist movement has jumped the shark.

Posted by: LLF | July 26, 2006 08:34 PM

Since I'm a rather young woman, I have a question. Before PPD was discovered, what did women do when they were feeling so overwhelmed, say...15 years ago? Because I don't seem to remember all this kid-killing going on when I was coming up. As comforting as it is to know that I can get away with killing my kids by saying that Jesus told me to do it, I can't help but wonder how many babies are going to die because of this ridiculous ruling.

By the way, if anyone here actually believes that Yates was insane, I have this lovely bridge to sell you. Lovely location in Brookyn. Awesome view. Just let me know.

Posted by: Jennifer | July 26, 2006 08:36 PM

I was severly abused as a child (as were my brothers) by a psychotic father who was later committed to and remains at a state mental facility. One of my brothers struggles with the same illness and paying for the drugs. He is incredibly fearful of ending up in the state facility, which has to be worse than any prison - I would never take my children there. It's hell on earth.

If anything, I would hope that whatever side of the verdict you are on, that we all agree that not enough was done to protect these children by those around them. Neighbors and families stood by for years after my mother died, doing nothing except making us outcasts. Our neighbors let their kids spit on us because we 'smelled like pee.' Teach your children to not make fun of these children, and show kindness when you are able. Volunteer at a mental facility, or with Big Brothers/ Big Sisters.
We were saved when another adult - new to the neighborhood- alerted our principal a year after my mother died.

Until you look this in the face, you can never, ever understand it, and even then can't imagine what the mentally ill are experiencing. Tragic.

Posted by: Sad | July 26, 2006 08:37 PM

Please - if any of you out there are feeling compelled to inflict harm on a child, do everyone a favor and just kill yourself. Call a sitter, make sure your kids are in the care of someone competent, and just step in front of a bus, or get a gun and blow your brains out.

Posted by: hipster | July 26, 2006 09:07 PM

Do some of you people actually know what insanity means??? You're judging her by your standards of "rational" behaviour. The same standards which are killing people in the middle east in a deeply perverse manner. Psychosis means break with reality and it would appear she thought she was doing right in the eyes of god - a god which is paramount in the eyes of so many right wingers.

And Josh... up the top with your typo corrections... grow up, or see a therapist.

Posted by: Lilly in tx | July 26, 2006 09:15 PM

Some of these comments disgust me. There are people with true mental illness in the world. Andrea Yates was one of those people. I don't condone what she did. But she had a history of mental illness. Comparing her to people like IE: Ted Bundy and people who really were sane and just were evil is not fair. How can you compare her to people who had no history of mental illness?

Being that I myself have a mental illness, this is disturbing to think about. According to some of the above people who don't understand mental illness, I might as well be stoned to death according to their comments. It wouldn't matter that I take my medication and see my doctor on a regular basis and function in society. And oh my god here is a clencher, I have children!!!

Thank god you don't run the country because your an ignorant fool to make those kinds of statements and comments. People with mental illness deserved to be treated like human beings and are worthy of respect and love.

Maybe someone should go after the husband for continuing to get her pregnant even though he knew of her postpartum depression and her psychotic episodes. No one has said anything about him. Its all great in Rusty Yates land, he divorced Andrea and is now married to someone else even though his 5 children lay in the ground because of his negligence in not having his wife get fixed or doing his part to protect his children. Don't forget people, he had a hand in this too. He knew his wife was unstable. I don't understand why he walks free. That angers me. And it should anger you all too.

Im not surprised everyone is quick to say there is no way she could be insane. How could you know? Have you lived inside her mind? Have you had the misfortune of suffering from a mental illness?

Don't judge till you walked a mile in someone's shoes. Have some compassion and educate yourself about mental illness and its affects on the person and the family and friends.

I am glad she got proven not guilty by reason of insanity. Because she was your true definition of insane. I don't know what your definition of insane is, but if your expecting something from a movie, give it up. Movies play things up.

Just think she will have to live with what she has done for the rest of her life.

Posted by: Jenn | July 26, 2006 09:31 PM

Thank you to those of you who realize the fact that these children were placed in a situation that endangered, and finally ended, their lives. When do the victims actually count during a trial? Certainly this would qualify!!! Because of the "wonderful" justice system that we all speak so highly of, these children's lives will simply be forgotten. Not by their father and other loved ones, but by those in the jury who placed their mother in a mental health facility for the remainder of HER life. What about the doctors who felt that she was no longer psychotic, and felt that she no longer needed anti-psychotic medications? What is their punishment in the deaths of these innocent children? Andrea Yates did a horrible, heinous thing, but were her children given a chance to go to an orphanage for the remainder of their lives? It seems to me that Rusty Yates, although he will continually grieve for his children, needs to also question his behavior and role within this situation. "If" he hadn't urged Andrea to have another, and another, and another, child, would this all have happened? Hindsight is 20/20, after all.

Posted by: Beth | July 26, 2006 09:32 PM

Thank you, thank you, Mr. Cohen, for an article which restores my faith in the human race.

Posted by: Patty R | July 26, 2006 10:24 PM

I see the faces of the poor dead children. I remember most all the children fought desperately for their lives, especially the oldest, who broke away only to be murdered by his mom. I can blame lots of people, including that stupid ex husband, but I blame her. She is a murderer and she is guilty.

Posted by: Lori | July 26, 2006 10:45 PM

Incredibly bloodthirsty posters here, who think that Andrea Yates should be essentially tortured and then drowned, or otherwise executed for doing something that no mother in her right mind could ever do. They also seem to lack the basic human capacity to understand the fact that having to live out her life with an awareness that she killed the people she loved most in the world is by far the worst thing that could happen to her--far worse than experiencing her own death. She will be confined for life in a hell hole of an institution (Texas will never release her), and will live in a state of constant torture, particularly as she regains her connection to reality. As Cohen says, just being sane enough to be aware of what she did will be enough to keep her in a state of depression. That's what she has to look forward to for however many decades she has in front of her. How can there be a worse fate for a human being and a mother?

I honestly can't understand the venom. Her children are dead, and she knows that her own hands were responsible--guided by a brain that had become sick beyond all comprehension.

I'll bet most of you call yourselves "Christian." Jesus would not be talking about this woman the way you are, and wishing upon her the things that you are dreaming up. If you think he would, then maybe you need to go back to your Bibles and reread his words, with open eyes and open hearts this time.

I agree that Andrea's ex-husband seems to have escaped serious scrutiny here. Losing his family is a terrible punishment in and of itself, but he clearly could have behaved far more responsibly than he did. As others have said, had he made better choices his wife might have received real help and his children would still be alive. But he too will have to live with this for the rest of his life.

Posted by: observer | July 26, 2006 11:04 PM

Give me a break.....The woman should have been put out of her misery the way she thought the children should have. If she believed in "insane" state that she was trying to save them from going to "hell", then why didn't she take a knife to herself? She knew full well what she was doing. Insane or not....makes no difference. She is not fit to live or continue living and spending tax payers $$$ while so many sit back and say "Justice was served". BS in my opinion.

Posted by: Moon | July 26, 2006 11:17 PM

One more statement....As far as the husband..Yes, a piece of work that one. But we come into this world alone with the help of our mother, and we die (usually) on our own...She commited these actions. She could have dropped them off ANYWHERE, Ran off herself, as a woman, a woman must make hard decisions in life and take responsiblity for her actions herself. As far as killing the ones that you love the most in the world....Someone explain that to me please? How is that a punishment when she so easily did it and then tried to defend her actions by reasons of "insanity"...So yes, a jerk he was, is and will one day pay for it all himself...But he has one thing that she doesn't. He didn't kill those children. She did.

Posted by: moon | July 26, 2006 11:23 PM

I can pick out the posts of the Neo-cons everytime: they are the ones oozing with hatred and bloodlust. Their kind are the cancer upon this nation.

Posted by: Alexandra | July 26, 2006 11:24 PM

how vile and evil are those who dismiss the insanity defense out of hand. i am sure none of them have themselves suffered from (or witnessed a close friend or relative with) major psychosis. the hate and vindictiveness present in society is the real devil, not some sad and severely ill woman who surely will pay for her horrendous act.

Posted by: nomind | July 26, 2006 11:25 PM

I agree that Rusty Yates was equally culpable for childrens' deaths. Andrea was crazy. A Dr. had advised them not to have more children since she experienced increasing psychosis, associated with post-partum depression, after each birth yet Rusty wanted as "many as God would provide."

Their church also shares some of the blame as well. It wanted them to have as many kids as they could even though Andrea had shown signs of being crazy. Rusty had to know she crazy. It was his responsibility to protect her and their children. Mentally ill people live in their own reality.

This case is a landmark case that emphasizes the importance of dealing with post-partum depression. Sometimes it just doesn't go away and gets worse after every birth.

Posted by: Lisa | July 26, 2006 11:26 PM

Well, we've liberalized our country to where it is accepted and expected to abort unborn children and harvest them to attempt to cure disease. Now apparently it's okay to abort them if they are an inconvenience up to the 'tween' age. We should let Susan Smith out of prison ASAP. After all, she only drowed two kids.

Posted by: Kev | July 26, 2006 11:27 PM

Another thought after reading a few more posts.... I am in awe of how people can say that the poor insane murderess is going to be tortured for the rest of her life knowing that she drowned her kids. She seemed okay after drowning the first one. And the second. And the third. And the fourth. And the fifth one that tried to escape. The poor tortured woman was able to get over the previous four murders long enough to drag number five back and finish the job. Maybe after she has some more and drowns them we can make her a foster mother and have her drown even more. Then we can try and imagine her state of mind then and let her off the hook again. Good times.

Posted by: Kev | July 26, 2006 11:33 PM

I fear for the safety of the children of people who think that justice was served in this instance.

Posted by: Arthur | July 26, 2006 11:41 PM

I fear for the safety of the children of people who think that justice was served in this instance.

I fear for the safety of people like you who don't understand mental illness. I hope you
or you children never suffer from it!

Posted by: c | July 27, 2006 12:18 AM

Well, we've liberalized our country to where it is accepted and expected to abort unborn children and harvest them to attempt to cure disease. Now apparently it's okay to abort them if they are an inconvenience up to the 'tween' age. We should let Susan Smith out of prison ASAP. After all, she only drowed two kids.

Oh, do mean "stem cells"? Christians certainly are obsessed with sex and reproduction. They'll gladly kill those same
stem cells if they grow up to be iraqi civilians though.

Posted by: c | July 27, 2006 12:25 AM

Please - if any of you out there are feeling compelled to inflict harm on a child, do everyone a favor and just kill yourself. Call a sitter, make sure your kids are in the care of someone competent, and just step in front of a bus, or get a gun and blow your brains out.

Why don't you do the same, josh?

Posted by: c | July 27, 2006 12:31 AM

Only a bleeding heart liberal can find justice in the Yates verdict today. Anyone who excuses murder, under any circumstance, is the insane person in this case.

Or someone who isn't a neocon moron who understands what the hell mental illness actually is. I think you cell of the einstazgruppen is meeting later today. Have fun!

Posted by: c | July 27, 2006 12:37 AM

To the user who compaired Andrea Yates to Susan Smith...PLEASE dont mention their names in the same breath. Susan Smith killed her children because her boyfriend didnt want to be bogged down with kids. Andrea Yates must wish that she were dead too in her moments of sanity. Her hell is here on Earth when she realizes what she did. Susan Smiths hell is in knowing that she got caught.

Posted by: DawnH | July 27, 2006 01:02 AM

Amazing that Iraq and stem cells are being dragged into this! Many of the "pro-Andrea" postings seem to be from a handful of people with multiple frenzied posts. Speaking as a "middle of the roader", I am outraged beyond measure that this five-time killer will someday walk free. It's not just the "neo-cons" who are mad as hell.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | July 27, 2006 01:13 AM

I am so relieved at this verdict. I have said to place her in a mental institution since it first happend. She needs help. They need to try Rusty.

Posted by: Crystal | July 27, 2006 01:19 AM

The evidence at trial showed that Ms. Yates was an overburdened mother who had mental illness so severe that she had been hospitalized long before killing her kids. It is gratifying that the jury saw beyond the horror of her acts, to the illness behind those acts.

She clearly loved her children; there was ample evidence that she worked very hard to raise them well, until she simply broke. She will miss them for the rest of her life, and will suffer greatly.

Let the notorious Harris County prosecutors find someone truly evil to hang. Andrea Yates is not that person.

Posted by: Scott | July 27, 2006 01:33 AM

Andrea Pia Yates will spend her days at the Rusk State Hospital in Rusk, Texas. There she will be doped up, perhaps have a job in the mental institution, and receive visitors during normal visiting hours. She won't have to worry about getting visits from good ol' Rusty, he's remarried to a fellow NASA employee. I wonder if the punitive state of Texas will try her for the additional deaths of her children, since they only tried her for 3 of the children's deaths. Harris County is really punitive!

Posted by: Lori | July 27, 2006 01:34 AM

You just dont get it.. WE ALL FAILED THESE CHILDREN! "WE" as in the entire country!
You want to blame someone Look in the damn mirror. This system is full of double standards and corruption! If you think otherwise your a fool.

Posted by: Erick | July 27, 2006 08:10 AM

There was no justice here. The kids are all dead. Her defense lawyers are all cons. Just like Andrea and Rusty. Speck, Gacy, and Dahmer all were found guilty of murder. So should Andrea Yates. BTK should eventually be found guilty, too. There is a clear double standard in our "justice system".

Posted by: John | July 27, 2006 08:30 AM

Question by adamsj:

"This is an interesting point (if accurate), and one I'd like to see the author of the original post address.

(I don't mean any offense by the "if accurate" part, as the poster didn't sound like one of the high-tech lynch mob, but I'm leery of internet legal citations by persons unknown, particularly accompanied by villagers carrying pitchforks and torches.)"

No offense. Dr. Michael Welner -- The New York Forensic psychiatist called by the prosecution -- predicts that Andrea Yates will be home sooner than I do, because she has always responded well to medication in the past:

Lori, the Rusk Hospital is the Texas Department of Corrections mental health unit. Because Andrea Yates has been found innocent, she can not be held at Rusk. Her probable new home will be the State Hospital at Vernon, Texas.

There is little or no chance of the prosecution attempting to convict on the other two murdered children.


Posted by: Conor | July 27, 2006 11:47 AM

Scott ...you couldn't be more wrong. In fact, since the killings occured, she has expressed she should have only killed the 6 month old since she felt the infant caused most of the issues she had against her children. In her warped perception (note, psychosis is not insanity), the children were exhibiting signs they would not grow up adequately and reflect badly on her as a mother as well. So to keep them "good with God", she killed them all. Delusional? Absolutely, compounded by a history of mental disorders. Psychotic? No question, she'd attempted to take her own life and had filled the bath before in contemplation of killing the innocents, but just didn't feel right going through with it at that time until she finally did months afterwards. She has exhibited a clear sense of right and wrong (clouded and warped as her reality is). I'll meet you half way, sterilize her and no chance of leaving the mental facility (the latter is already in question).

Posted by: Of course... | July 27, 2006 07:28 PM

Lily in Tx...your sense of actuality and proportion is in dire need of review. Very keen analysis (note the sarcasm). By politicizing the death of five innocent children by a clearly mentally disturbed individual, you have not only exploited and devalued a horrible act of violence by a mother to her children...but have also indicated you have no grasp of rationality. Look up the definitions of psychotic and insane (you used both in the same context), then apply to yourself the one that suits you best. ...you're all class.

Posted by: How quaint. | July 27, 2006 08:00 PM

I agree with all the "sane" people who stated that THIS IS NO JUSTICE. How can the jury and defense attorneys sleep at night claiming that someone killed her children one by one is "not guilty." Sane or not, she is guilty for sure. Her husband is guilty too by leaving 5 young kids with a crazy mother! I think she should be locked down in the mental hospital until the day her condition stablized, and then be sent to life in prison with no parol. If Andrea Yates doesn't know right from wrong, our court certainly does not know either. I feel so sorry for the 5 Yates children and all the children suffering from abuse by "insane" parents because they all are "not guilty by reason of insanity!"

Posted by: Michelle | July 27, 2006 08:02 PM

The bloodlust being exhibited on this thread is downright sickening. The "Christian conservatives" are being disingenuous here by de-emphasizing the fact that she thought that she was sending her children to god, and emphasizing the planning that was involved in the crime (and thus, strongly implying that the ability to reason in a clear and balanced manner is somehow a pre-requisite for the ability to plan a course of action; such an implication is demonstrably false).

Posted by: nat | July 28, 2006 12:24 AM

Texas is insane!
Yates was normal...
She should have been judged so

Posted by: pepe | July 28, 2006 02:13 AM

Wheither she was insane or not, she should be held accountable for her actions. It's not the fact that she was in the wrong frame of mind, it's that she killed not just 1- but all five of her children! It's ridiculous! It seemed that the jurors didn't look at the murdered children as the victims but the mother.

Posted by: Henry. | July 28, 2006 07:38 AM

Killers are all insane one way or another.
If insanity = not guilty,
thus killers are all not guilty.
In conclusion, there is no need for prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, jury, and court system to justify murder cases. Furthermore, free all the murderers from jail or death row. They are all innocent at the moments of insanity when they committed the crime.

Posted by: Lee | July 28, 2006 12:14 PM

Nat...your pseudo-logic needs a lot more work. You seem to equate any "bloodlust" displayed on this board as coming from your perception of Christians. This is completely un-substantiated with no clear or direct evidence to support it. You merely used this forum to impose your political/socio-religious views on the readers. The same kind of logic Adolf Hitler used to state Christ was anti-jewish because he chastised the tax collectors in the temple. Please re-direct your own disgust onto your own prejudices. Your own "bloodlust" blinds you to the matter at hand, the murder of 5 innocents by a deluded psychotic.

Posted by: Actually.. | July 28, 2006 12:15 PM

I don't understand why would someone not see that the logic described and explained by Lee is just being sarcastic about our juducial system? He or she is trying to tell you that if Andrea Yates is innocent of killing 5 children out of insanity, then all killers ought to be innocent as well since they are all insane. What is wrong with our law? What is wrong with people's reading comprehension? This society is going down the drain....

Posted by: Actually Not | July 28, 2006 01:03 PM


"...the murder of 5 innocents by a deluded psychotic."

I find it heinous to conflate the actions of someone who is psychotic -- or whatever the exact psychological term is -- with someone who is a psychopath. Clearly, anyone who feels a need to conflate the two is solely interested in revenge, not justice. The idea of killing in the name of god is one that I find reprehensible, for it twists a very honorable judeo-christian ethic into something monstrous.

Posted by: nat | July 28, 2006 04:22 PM

I"m sorry, are you reading the same forum I am? I didn't respond to Lee. I pointed out that Nat (further up on the page)is using a horrible murder committed by a mentally unstable mother to express her own political views and unfounded concept of the people she believes are Christians posting here. Demonstrating her own "bloodlust" against what she perceives as conservatives who must be Christians in her poorly formulated conclusion.

Posted by: Actually.. | July 28, 2006 04:33 PM

Nat...the dictionary's definition of psychopathic..."A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse." So..another of your imposed false conclusions. The prosecution's psychiatric experts described Yates' condition as a PSYCHOSIS. PSYCHOPATHIC was never used by both sides. It simply does not apply. Yates felt remorse and empathy (albiet a warped empathy) further adding weight to the not insane legal assumption. You persist in accusing and forming false conclusions, where there's simply no facts to support it. Then you expect others to buy into your armchair conclusion that only conservative Christians are exhibiting a "bloodlust" on these boards. You demean what's happened to those children in favour of your own ego.

Posted by: Actually.. | July 28, 2006 05:23 PM

Andrea Yates is sick. Rusty Yates is sicker. Our court room and judicial system is the sickiest. The poor Yates children did not live to see what their future may be. Perhaps it's a good thing. Who wants to live in this kind of unfair society that only protects insane people anyway?

Posted by: | July 28, 2006 06:02 PM

I think Texas needs to rewrite the law to read Guilty by reason of insanity. Here is a blog I wrote on the verdict.


Posted by: Lisa Henson | July 28, 2006 06:32 PM

I am a nurse and post partum depression is very real. Her so-called husband knowing his wife suffered from post partum, and had a record of psychosis should have taken the reins after the first time it happened and made sure she did not keep getting pregnant, If she would not use birth control as she should have,then he should have been a man and used protection or better yet gotten a vasectomy. How utterly and disgustingly irresponsible. I hear nothing about him as far as the truth, on any news program or talk show, its nausiates me totally,a man shirked his responsiblity totally when knowing his wife has such mental problems and allowed her to give birth over and over fully aware that she had post partum depression, and can happen after each birth. He as far as I am concerned is sicker than her. She was diagnosed with a mental illness......someone slipped up,HE should have been in therapy also. Worst of all saying they will have as many children as God gives them. Using God as an excuse for his negligence.I feel he should be in a mental facility also for the rest of his disgusting life, not marrying some stupid woman,she has to be to marry someone like him. He is actually contiplating having more children, what a sick, immoral, unbalanced individual......for shame!

Posted by: Ellen Wilson | July 28, 2006 10:05 PM

I certainly thought Rusty would have married a woman 20 years his junior, however he married a woman roughly the same age as him. I hope she cannot have any more children, for his sake and hers.

Posted by: Lori | July 29, 2006 11:46 AM

According to "Ellen Wilson", it's Rusty's fault that Andrea Yates murdered her children because he didn't castrate himself. Always the "man's fault". If the father had killed the children would it be her fault because she's fertile? I don't think Andrea Yates was psychotic. I think folks who bend over backwards to avoid logic are psychotic. There are folks that consider Rusty an abusive husband because _he_ tried to force his wife to seek mental help, but negligent because _she_ resisted. There is no grey area. There is "Good and evil. Right and wrong." Andrea Yates was wrong. The jury was wrong. Whoever implied I'm a Christian because I believe children have rights is also wrong. I'm a proud Republican, non-Christian who'd vote George W. Bush in for a third term if it were legal. It's about time we had an honest president who follows his heart rather than an appeaser who follows the polls.

Posted by: Kev | July 31, 2006 02:42 PM

Andrea Yates asked when she dies, she wants to be buried next to her children. Please, for the poor children's sake, don't let her go anywhere near them in the after life.

As a mother of two young children, I cannot imagine anyone tolerate the excuse of being mentally ill when it comes to killing her own kids. I would die for my kids no questions asked. I would never make my kids suffer from pain and fear for any reason. That's just a mother's instinct. Even if she didn't know what she was doing when she held them down in the water while they struggled and fought to live, she should still be punished legally, mentally, physically until the day she dies!

Posted by: | August 1, 2006 06:50 PM

I am so angry to even read some of these comments. What does President Bush and the sick terrorist have to do with a Mother killing her 5 children. And as I read on I see people telling others that they mispelled a word my gosh people open your eyes our children are being raped and murdered every night I turn on the T.V. there is another missing child so is Andrea Yates any diffrent NO she knew what she was doing she planned it she ran the water she took each one of those Angels one by one and drowned them.And don't forget then she knew how to call 911 if she was out of her mind why would she call 911 because she knew what she had done was wrong and she knew she was going to jail for it so don't tell me she was so insane that she could not pick up the phone and call 911 and tell them she was insane and felt she may hurt her children. I will say I think Rusty Yates should hold some accountability also for him to think his children got justice is sick and he sickens me everytime I see him on T.V. also as far as the Doctor that took her off of her medicine we don't know how she was around him. Her own husband said she had them fooled thinking she was all better please if he had a brain he would have took her to another doctor instead of the same one over and over. This man was told by a doctor not to have any more children due to Andrea's deppression well he was not to concerned because they had little Mary. I watched Nancy Grace tonight and they played a taped confession she gave and this women may have had some problems and been overwhelmed with 5 children but that is why we have birth control. I think this is a horrible thing that a mother can murder her children and get by with it and she will be out sooner than alot of people think. I also want to comment to a posting about the drug Effexor I take it so does that mean if I stop taking it I will kill my kids first of all unless you take the medicine don't comment on it please. It is for depression not psycotic behavior which is what she claims to have been suffering from and some want to blame the Doctors the Lawyers the Drug manufactures please people who is to blame only one person Andrea Yates.
This is so wrong!!!

Posted by: kmills | August 2, 2006 04:30 AM

While I don't agree with the rant posted above, I share some of his outrage. I don't doubt that Andrea Yates was legally insane - but I think there should be a "guilty but insane" finding that jury can make. "Not guilty by reason of insanity" by its very terminology absolves the insane person of any guilt. She murdered 5 children. She is guilty...but insane. And she should go to jail. I acknowledge that she suffered from post-partum depression and that it is a real affliction that affects many. But we can't make excuses for murderers - we just can't.

People, even the mentally ill, should go to jail when they commit murder. They should have and routine evaluations, but they should be punished.

Posted by: LegallyFab | August 2, 2006 08:40 PM

I found a timeline of her downward spiral with some in-depth p[ictures. WOW.

Posted by: Taylor Hunt | August 4, 2006 01:01 PM

(Ironic, how the very people calling for Andrea Yate's execution are the same people who applaud George Bush's murderous illegal war in Iraq, which has killed far far more innocent children than 5.)

If you're defending the murderer of 5 kids,you should wonder if you are making an excuse for hatred and bloodlust,rather than to try to only pin that label on the neo-cons. I don't support the dumb, ineffective, war in Iraq, or the silly neo-con projects that waste money and lives. Andrea Yates does not deserve to live. Russell Yates made a mistake wanting to have kids with her. However,he could not legally force her to have the 5 kids,if she didn't want to. She has responsibilty. Andrea Yates deserves death or a life-time prison sentence. Also, can you imagine a man in this situation being declared insane and being put in a mental-health facility? Yeah,I thought not.The U.S. has a stupid justice system.

Posted by: Tommy | August 7, 2006 06:35 PM

ok, it's apparent that some of the posters on this board have no understanding/appreciation of mental illness. i hope mental illness never strikes one of your family members, or worse, YOU. if you had to live with being severly mentally ill, you would understand exactly what happened in this case. it's the stigma put out by people such as yourselves that keep sick people from getting help and contribute to society's relative ignorance regarding the mentally ill. the general public has come a long way in its understanding of mental disorders, but judging from this board, there is still a lot of learning left to be done.

Posted by: educated | August 8, 2006 04:52 PM

Andrea Yates got away with serial murder and she should have been fried like an egg. Rusty played an significant role in her depression and these deaths, but he will never be charged for his misconducts. Who said that the good guys actually win.

Andrea will get out much sooner that we know and hopefully she will not reproduce anymore kids. She is not mother material and God is not too pleased with her. As for her special type of depression, I don't buy it. It is alot of hype that mothers who are drama queens that want sympathy.

Depression is real, but "baby blues" are greatly exaggerated in the media. Andrea Yates should be drowned like her kids, and the world would be a better place. Then, the justice system would begin it justice on Rusty Yates to finish this case.

Posted by: Joan Logan | August 15, 2006 09:41 PM

What difference does it make if she was sane or insane????The kids are just as dead and suffered just as much. She should have gotten life in prison at the very least, preferably she should have gotten the death penalty. Psychiatry is not an exact science, it is only someones opinion. Facts are...she drowned five little kids. Who cares if she "wasn't feeling well"...she deserves to be punished and justice was thrown down the toilet with that decision.

Posted by: Alyce | August 25, 2006 07:08 PM

I wonder who married Rusty Yates. I think it must of been some blind and deaf person from some remote island. I can't imagine who else would want to marry him.

Posted by: Dawn | August 30, 2006 05:10 PM

My opinion is that she should have been found guilty because she had said she premeditated it for 2 years and also she pled insanity because its the easy way out.

Thats why most people get away with murder because they know that the courts will fall for the whole "Im insane" thing.

Posted by: Crystal | September 27, 2006 09:59 AM

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