Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Yates Not Guilty in Kids' Deaths

I've just read this news article and then watched the results of Andrea Yates' trial on T.V. tonight. Hearing over and over again of how Andrea Yates drowned her five children, saving her 7 year old for last (he struggled the most) has left me feeling quite sick to my stomach. She's been found not guilty by reason of insanity and I'm conflicted on how I feel about that.

On one hand, I have to believe that she was mentally ill to have executed such a horrific act, not just once, but five separate drowning situations.

On the other hand, I can't help but feel outraged about the agony that those poor little angels had to suffer at the hands of their own mother and I'm not sure that her spending time in a mental hospital, until she's deemed to be not harmful to herself and others, is a punishment that fits the crime.

Was this a case of postpartum depression that was inadequately treated? Even if so, the testimony makes it appear that she was at least sane enough to know killing her children was wrong. Doesn't that negate a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity?

And there's her ex-husband, Rusty Yates. I can't help but feel as though he had a part in this, even though no charges were brought against him. He may not have drowned his children, but how could a husband not be aware of his wife's mental struggles, especially if they were as pronounced as the defense claimed? Did he ignore the warning signs?

And what about her doctor who saw her a couple of days before she killed her children who simply set her how telling her, "have a happy day" and not viewing her as psychotic.

In the end, I know that it's not for me to judge, that both Andrea and Rusty have only to answer to God. I also know that they'll both have to live with this tragedy for the rest of their lives and there's no escaping it. I'm just disheartened by the sickness in our society.

How do you feel about Andrea Yate's not guilty sentence? I'd be really interested to hear your viewpoint.
7:18 PM

At 8:21 PM, Blogger MugwumpMom said...

Wow...good question. This is hard for me too, doubly so, since my own personal paradigm shift on justice and punishment. I'm training to be a restorative justice worker and see real value in restorative practises, particularly among young offenders..having said that, she's an adult, and whether she was insane or not??? I really don't know. But you're right. At the end of the day, she has God to answer to, and we can take solace in the fact that her children are already with Him.

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Barb said...

I just saw this decision on my AOL opening page.

This story has been heartbreaking since we first heard about it. My very first thought was how horrific it was for her children. I almost can't bear to think about the reality of what happened in that bathroom.

But in my heart, I've thought all along surely this woman was just completely overwhelmed. She had to have felt so hopelessly alone that she just lost her mind.

I think there's a lot more to this than we'll ever know. I know enough. I don't want to know any more.

Andrea has to live with what she did for the rest of her life. I have no idea how she'll ever forgive herself. I can only pray that she'll eventually realize she's not walking this path alone, if only she will accept His help.

I've taken this to my heart. For the rest of MY life, if I'm near any mother who seems to be struggling, I will offer to help her in any way I possibly can.

At 9:09 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

I think the decision was the right one. It's so haunting (her oldest was Noah, I have a Noah who was about the same age at the time this happened) but I'm convinced that she was and is severely mentally ill and that she (and her children) should have been protected from herself. I think she DID cry out for help and that no one (her husband especially) listened.

I know that the Yates were quiver-full convicted and I know that some quiver-full convicted people believe that with absolute faith God will not give them more children than they can handle. For an article I interviewed a number of quiver-full families and their faith and resolution is very impressive but in this case, I think it was also misplaced. It's a terrible tragedy and I can only hope that the signs of post-partum psychosis are better known because of it and that more women and children will be protected from its devastation.

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Paulette said...

You know right from the beginning I had to say, God help this woman she is Mentally Ill. No one like you said in her right mind would do something so Horrific. I know first hand about Mental illness, she couldnt help it. I think hubby was just as guilty after so many children he knew she was depressed and they kept going.
I am not saying everybody that has alot of children is mentally ill. I am saying post partum depression is very real. I do not think hers was at all treated, if so they would have seen the warnings.
I think she is insane and could not help it, I think she will suffer plenty at her own hands I just cant bring myself to judge her at all.
Great post, it has been on my heart

At 10:09 PM, Blogger Paulette said...

Did I mention Rusty Yates was just as guilty!!!! He dropped the ball with his wife big time. I believe that is one reason he still highly supports her emotionally because he also carries the guilt. Sorry...

Oh by the way I absolutely love your site and come here alot,I am just beginning to leave comments.

At 12:50 AM, Blogger Granny said...

There's a saying - the crime is its own defense.

She's not Susan Smith who drowned her kids and tried to palm it off on some mythical black man.

She suffered from PPD after her 4th child. Why the 5th? Her husband was involved in a sect that as far as I'm concerned denigrated women (and I say that as a Christian). Everyone knew something was desperately wrong. She should have been hospitalized but she wasn't. She was left alone with those children.

I think the first verdict should have been insanity and I was glad to see the reversal; especially since false information was given at the trial. The prosecution claimed she got the idea from a Law & Order show that was never on the air. I knew that; I've never missed an espisode and I'd remember.

I cringe every time I see Rusty Yates and his smirking face. As far as I'm concerned, he should have been in jail right along with her and all the others who saw this happening and did nothing.

We'll never know what caused her to do what she did but I believe she was insane no matter how calm she appeared on the surface.

Unless there's something I don't know, I think the verdict this time around was correct.

Perhaps she should never be released but she belongs in a hospital, not a jail.

She will have the rest of her life to live with what she did. (While Rusty has remarried and seems to be coping quite nicely).

At 4:54 AM, Blogger pithydithy said...

If this was not a cause of insanity, I wouldn't know what was or why we even have the defense. I do agree that others have guilt too-- especially her husband, and I, like everyone else, am horrified by the crime. I think that the problem is that there are just some horrible things that happen and we, as a just society, find that we can't find a response that seems appropriate enough. I agree that she belongs in a mental hospital. I agree that, if she improves significantly and is stable, she should be considered for release. And I agree that that feels totally inadequate a response to the horror of what she did. Sometimes there are no easy answers and there is no comfort for society.

At 4:55 AM, Blogger pithydithy said...

Crap-- that's supposed to be "case of insanity," not "cause." Talk about confusing.

At 5:39 AM, Anonymous Erin M. said...

I have to say I agree with it in the sense that at the time the crime was committed she was definitely in a state of psychosis. I also absolutely agree that her husband should have been considered an accessory for not getting her the help she truly needed, particularly if she had been hospitalized for being suicidal after their 4th child. Now, I know it is hard to get a mentally ill person to take help but I think she was definitely "crying out" for help long before this. Of course, we are only hearing what comes through the media, too.

Sigh. Even if she is deemed stable enough down the road, she does have to live with the fact that her children died at her own hands. I doubt that she will ever be stable with that in her mind.

PS I moved over to wordpress. I did send you an e-mail with the new address so you can update your link. Otherwise, I think you can get it from my comment name.

At 6:49 AM, Anonymous chelle said...

Wow..when I saw the news I was surprised too. Yet I cannot even imagine leaving my child, much less hurting them, or the ultimate killing them....she had to be insane....if not she is a sociopath. Either way she will be spending a LONG time in a psyc ward.

At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Sylvie said...

I also fine myself conflicted about this. She had to be insane to do such a thing, but should she have the chance to live out in the free world and have more children if she chooses? That is the big question for me. I don't know if that is right.

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

I'm just disgusted with the whole thing. I just don't buy the whole insanity thing, I'm sorry. If she was insane she wouldn't have saved the oldest for last because he struggled the I correct in thinking that when you're insane you don't have a clue of reality??? Wouldn't she just have killed them all and not even remembered what happened???

It's just sickening to me.

At 2:56 PM, Blogger ruth said...

From a sad personal experience in my family, my sister in law comitted suicide when my nephew was 6 months old many years ago when little was known about Post partum depression. The extreme is called post partum psychosis. My brother had made an appointment for her with a doctor for a day or two later than the day she died. She had changed from a happy person to a very sad young woman, & I know that she was not in her right mind when she killed herself at her parents home two doors down with her dad's gun he kept in a bedroom drawer. She was a loving caring person who loved her children & my brother & would not in her right mind have caused the resulting devestation her loss caused.

At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know I can't even really hear about this without tearing up. I am without words.

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Kathleen Marie said...

It is a shocker but in my opinion she was insane/possessed. I don't know how she will be able to live with herself. I don't know how she can even plead not guilty if she has a conscience at all.

I just don't get it.

She will probably be locked up ie getting treatment the rest of her life. I can't imagine her ever being let loose but who knows in todays crazy world.

In the end, God will be the only true and just judge. Only He knows what truly was happening in her mind and spirit.

I do not that God can and will forgive her if she is truly repentant. No sin is too great for forgiveness. And, I thank the Lord her children will never suffer again. They are at peace.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Kathleen Marie said...

I just thought I would add - Every since I read about this I have been upset. Thanks for the email. There are no answers, you are right about that. Have a great evening :)

At 2:02 AM, Anonymous Mieneke said...

This is the kind of thing that just makes me want to hold my daughter close to me and never, ever let her go!
That woman in the UK, that put her child in the oven, the Italian woman that put her baby in the washing machine.
I HAVE to believe that the people that commit these horrible deeds are not in their right minds. That for some reason they are disconnected.
The idea that someone could do these things while completely Lucid? That is just too horrible for words.
It's all just So, so sad and heartbreaking.....

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Dawn and Joe De Lorenzo said...

I believe in my heart that crimes against children are categorically the worst, and at the hands of your own mother is beyond words. Those poor children did not stand a chance. I see why she has been deemed insane, but fear that defense because it is later used as a defense in future cases that do not qualify. We have all seen it...teens kill the parents and then say they were abused...before you know it you see that defense again in another similar case. Judgement of Andrea Yates will surely be handled by the Lord and I will leave it to him for sure I am not to judge/

At 9:24 PM, Blogger cmhl said...

I have never done criminal defense, but even if I did, I would have a hard time doing HER defense. but with that said, I think that mentally ill people are not treated fairly by our judicial system. I think this second decision was the correct one, but it doesn't make it any less tragic.

Rusty Yates makes me ill. he knew how bad she was. he knew. she had been "that bad" before.

At 3:21 PM, Blogger bon said...

I can hardly think rationally about this case... I feel so physically ill, and angry, and heartsick. Like many of the previous commenters, I must believe that this woman was insane, horrifically insane to do what she did. That's as far as I can go, because my imagination heads south and I cannot think about what was going on in her baby's minds leading up to and during this incident, cannot think about it without puking and/or crying.


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