Andrea Yates May Get New Trial

In this March 21, 2002 file photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Andrea Yates is seen in Gatesville, Texas. AP/Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice

A closely watched murder trial that sometimes seemed like a shocking movie will apparently have a sequel.

Andrea Yates could be getting a new trial after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused on Wednesday to reconsider a lower court ruling that overturned her capital murder convictions for drowning her children in a bathtub in 2001.

That means the case will be retried, or a plea bargain will be considered.

Harris County Assistant District Attorney Alan Curry said he's confident Yates will be convicted again if the case goes back to trial.

"Andrea Yates knew precisely what she was doing," Curry said. "She knew that it was wrong."

Yates' attorney, George Parnham, did not immediately return a phone call to The Associated Press. Yates' ex-husband Russell Yates, who stood by her throughout the trial but later divorced her, also did not immediately return a phone message.

"There was overwhelming evidence at her first trial that Yates was severely mentally ill when she drowned her children, that she was delusional and that she wasn't on the right medication," says CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen. "And I suspect those themes will emerge again for the defense at this next trial."

Cohen says he wouldn't be surprised by some sort of deal in the case "that allows everyone to avoid a new trial. Prosecutors may decide that they've already proven their point, that Yates' family doesn't want a new trial and that the most just outcome here would be to ensure that Yates spends the rest of her life in a mental health facility."


CBSNews.com legal analyst Andrew Cohen discusses the latest developments in the Yates case.


Jurors rejected Yates' insanity defense in 2002 and found her guilty of two capital murder charges for the deaths of three of her five children.

The First Court of Appeals in Houston overturned her convictions in January because of erroneous testimony from forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz, who suggested Yates got the idea for the murders from an episode of "Law & Order."

Dietz consulted for the television show and testified at the trial that shortly before Yates' crime occurred, a "Law & Order" episode ran about a woman who drowned her children and was found innocent by reason of insanity.

But it turned out that no such "Law & Order" episode existed.

Yates' lawyer has said Dietz's testimony swayed jurors who otherwise might have found Yates was insane.

Yates was sentenced to life in prison and is jailed at a psychiatric prison in East Texas.

Curry asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, based in Austin, to reconsider the lower court's ruling. He said the lower court wrongly applied the law when it overturned the convictions.

On June 20, 2001, Yates drowned her five children one by one, then called police to her Houston home and showed them the bodies of Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2, and 6-month-old Mary.

Yates, 41, pleaded insanity, and according to testimony at the trial, she was overwhelmed by motherhood, considered herself a bad mother, suffered postpartum depression, had attempted suicide and had been hospitalized for depression.
  • Joel Roberts

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