The Life of Andrea Pia Yates

Topics: Psychiatry, Insanity defense, Mental disorder Pages: 3 (1038 words) Published: August 19, 2012
Andrea Pia Yates Paper

Andrea Pia Yates (born July 2, 1964) committed the filicide of her five young children on June 20, 2001 by drowning them in the bathtub in her home. Convicted of first degree murder in 2002 and sentenced to life in prison with parole possible after 40 years, Yates' conviction was later overturned on appeal. On July 26, 2006, a Texas jury ruled Yates to be not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI). She was consequently committed by the court to the North Texas State Hospital, Typically, a woman has a believably tragic story to go along with her deed, although some like Mary Beth Tinning, Susan Smith, and Marie Noe turned out to have killed for reasons other than their initial excuses. Thus, excuses become suspicious. And sometimes an act is so overwhelming that no mental condition seems to count as a reasonable explanation. However, although juries tend to punish the killing of strangers harshly, they often are more lenient with mothers as it is evident in this particular case.   It appears that juries have a difficult time in America sending a mother to lethal injection or the electric chair. While postpartum depression occurs in up to twenty percent of women who have children, psychotic manifestations are much rarer, and thus much less understood.   Only one in five hundred births result in the mother's postpartum psychosis, says forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner (Ramsland).   A psychiatric examination was ordered for Andrea. The psychiatrist asked Andrea what she thought would happen to the children now. She indicated that she believed God would "take them up."   He reversed the question and asked what might have happened if she had not taken their lives. Andrea said, "I guess they would have continued stumbling," which meant, "They would have gone to hell." The doctors testifying for Yates made the claim. "She did what she thought was right in the world she perceived through her psychotic eyes at the time," said psychiatrist Phillip...
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