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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
US mother retried over drownings
Andrea Yates in the courtroom in Houston, Texas on 26 June 2006
Yates faces life in prison if convicted
A US woman pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity as her retrial began in Texas over charges that she drowned her five children in a bathtub in 2001.

Andrea Yates, 41, admitted drowning her children, aged between six months and seven years, at her first trial.

But her convictions were overturned last year after a court dismissed the evidence of an expert witness.

Yates's lawyers argue she was mentally ill at the time but prosecutors say she knew her actions were wrong.

The retrial in Houston is set to be a reprise of much of Andrea Yates's trial in 2002, with both the prosecution and defence expected to call many of the same witnesses.

TV show

These include the prosecution's mental health expert, forensic psychiatrist Dr Park Dietz, who argued at the first trial that Yates may have based her crime on a storyline from the TV show Law & Order.

The psychiatrist said he acted as a consultant on the television crime drama, and compared Yates's case with a particular episode.

Afterwards, it was found that no such episode existed.

Mrs Yates was sentenced to life in prison in 2002 over the deaths of three of her children. She was not tried over the deaths of the other two.

The appeal court in Texas subsequently quashed that conviction, ruling that errors in Dr Dietz's testimony could have affected the jury's verdict.

Dripping wet

As in her first trial, Yates on Monday pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the murder charges.

The first police officers on the scene on 20 June 2001 again described their horror at seeing a woman in dripping wet clothes who told them, "I just killed my kids."

Andrea Yates, her husband, and four of the children she killed
Yates's case sparked a debate over mental health issues

Yates then showed them the bodies of Noah, seven, John, five, Paul, three, Luke, two, and six-month-old Mary, they said.

She admitted drowning them one by one after calling them into the bathroom.

Yates's lawyer George Parnham argues that Yates suffered from severe postpartum psychosis and did not know her actions were wrong.

She told a prison psychiatrist she believed she was a bad mother with Satan inside her, Mr Parnham said.

In her delusional state, he said, Yates thought the only way she could save her children and send them to heaven was to kill them.

In her opening statement, prosecutor Kaylynn Williford said Yates waited until her husband had left for work before she drowned the children and was calm and rational when she called police to her home.

She told the officers she "had contemplated the death of her children for approximately two years" and "that she knew it was wrong", Ms Williford said.

Under Texas law, Yates does not face the death penalty because the first jury gave her a life sentence.


SEE ALSO
US killer mother verdict quashed
06 Jan 05 |  Americas
Texas mother gets life sentence
15 Mar 02 |  Americas
Neighbours' shock at baby killings
21 Jun 01 |  Americas
Post-natal depression
21 Jun 01 |  Health
Drowned children buried in Texas
27 Jun 01 |  Americas
Texan child murderer 'psychotic'
25 Jun 01 |  Americas



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