Mother accused of killing her 5 children goes on trial

21 2002

Mother accused of killing her 5 children goes on trial

HOUSTON, Texas -- Andrea Yates "did not appreciate the wrongfulness of her acts" when she drowned her children in a bathtub last year, a defense attorney said Monday during opening statements in her trial.

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"How does a mother who has given birth, who has nurtured, who has protected and who has loved the five children that she brought into this world interrupt their lives? How does nature’s act of birth, protection and love become inverted to cause what happened on June 20th, 2001" asked defense attorney George Parnham.

Yates, 37, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, confessed to drowning her children on June 20 last year.

She is charged with two counts of capital murder in the deaths of Noah, 7, John, 5, and Mary, 6 months. Her children Paul, 2, and Luke, 3, also were drowned in her home that day.

Her family and attorney have said Yates suffered from severe postpartum depression and has a history of mental illness, and Parnham said he will prove that Yates was so mentally ill that she was unaware of her actions.

Prosecutor Joseph Owmby told the jury of eight women and four men his burden is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Yates killed the children.

He said an officer discovered small, wet footprints on the carpet when he entered the Yates’ home that day.

Some of the jurors are parents. Prosecutors have said that if Yates is convicted they will seek the death penalty. But a conviction also could bring a sentence of life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 40 years.

If found innocent, Yates would be sent to a mental hospital because of her insanity plea. Two of the female jurors have degrees in psychology.

About 60 witnesses, many of them medical experts, have been subpoenaed to testify at the trial, which is expected to take up to a month.

Her family and attorney have said Yates suffered from severe postpartum depression and has a history of mental illness.

Prosecutors said they will pull no punches in trying to prove their case. They will play the 911 call Yates made and the taped interview she gave to police after her arrest. Police also took videos at the scene.

Yates told investigators she had to chase down and subdue the oldest child, Noah, who was found face down in the bathtub.

"They’re going to pull out pictures of those children lined up in bed with their hair still wet and the one in the bathtub still face down," Houston defense attorney Dick DeGuerin told CNN.

Her defense attorneys will try to paint a different picture.

"Make her a human being," DeGuerin said. "Make the jury understand how she could have been so delusional as to think she was saving her children by killing them." (FULL STORY)

Source by CNN_US

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