Yates' attorney posted her $200,000 bond, releasing her from incarceration. It is the first time she has been released since the five children were drowned in the family bathtub in June 2001, CBS News correspondent Lee Cowan reports.
"What we wanted for Andrea all along, you know, is for her to be in a mental hospital," her ex-husband, Russell Yates, told reporters. "I'm all in favor of her being given a bond so she can least be in a hospital a while before trial."
Rusty Yates has supported his former wife from the day she destroyed his family, long believing she had serious mental problems, Cowen reports.
State District Judge Belinda Hill set the bond Wednesday.
Yates, 41, didn't speak as she left the jail. She carried a brown paper sack and wore jeans and a blue-and-white striped shirt as she entered a car with her attorney and a private investigator for the drive to the mental hospital.
Her attorney, George Parnham, said he would answer questions after returning Yates to East Texas, where she previously spent more than three years at a prison psychiatric unit.
The judge said she couldn't order Yates to commit herself to the Rusk State Hospital, but said she set the bond based on Yates remaining there until her March 20 trial.
Prosecutors had asked that bond be set at $1 million.
"The reality is, this is a case about five dead children," prosecutor Kaylynn Williford said outside the courthouse. "Do I believe Andrea Yates is a threat to the public? Yes. She's the only person I've ever come in contact with who has killed five people."
Once the trial begins, Yates will return to the Harris County Jail. The trial is expected to last four to six weeks.
Yates faces capital murder charges for drowning three of the children and has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity.
A jury rejected her original insanity defense in 2002 and sentenced her to life in prison for the drowning of 7-year-old Noah, 5-year-old John and 6-month-old Mary. Prosecutors presented evidence about the drownings of Paul, 3, and Luke, 2, but Yates was not charged in their deaths.
An appeals court last year overturned the convictions based on testimony by the state's expert witness about a nonexistent episode on television's "Law & Order" series. The expert, Park Dietz, said a show about a woman with postpartum depression who drowned her children had aired shortly before the Yates children were drowned.