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Wrong Verdict in Yates Case
August 2, 2006
by Tony Zizza

It seems the world has never been the same since that fateful day back in June of 2001, when Andrea Yates drowned her children in a bathtub. Andrea drowned not one child, or two, or three, or four, but all five children who ranged in age from 6 months old to 7 years old. Trying to keep this murder scene in your head even for a few moments is extremely difficult. There are some things that are so horrific, you wonder how the human brain can absorb such naked evil.

But absorb such naked evil we must. We may never fully understand it. We may be presented with a plethora of seemingly legitimate defenses. We may want to pretend that the murder of children is impossible. Truth is, mothers are just as capable of murdering their children as fathers are. When it comes to the death of children, file gender under: irrelevant.

The verdict that came down in the new Andrea Yates murder trial of "not guilty by reason of insanity" is absolutely insane. Not to mention, dead wrong. Andrea will now spend the rest of her life in a mental hospital where she will have to take psychiatric drugs. A mental hospital is the last place that Andrea needs to be. She needs to spend the rest of her life in prison for drowning not one child, or two, or three, or four, but five children. These were her children. They were the responsibility of her and Rusty Yates, her husband at the time.

Now, let's talk about the life that Rusty and Andrea shared before their children were murdered. From what I understand, they lived in very cramped quarters. Money was tight. There was unquestionably a lot of stress, tension and general unhappiness. Not to mention, and for whatever reason I just can't wrap my brain around it, baby after baby after baby after baby was born. Why? Why did Andrea and Rusty keep having children? Mental illness and Effexor did not make them have sex.

There are significant environmental factors in the overall unhappiness that must have equaled their lives at the time. Environmental factors easily lead to parents making the awful choice to murder their children. There is a strong sense of no way out. There is a strong sense of feeling trapped. There is the prevailing thought of why did we have baby after baby after baby after baby. It's murder, not mental illness.

If we are to believe her ex-husband Rusty, (who now has a brand new family), and one of her lawyers, Wendell Odom, Andrea has always been psychotic. She has always been mentally ill. There have always been problems. If this is the case, why did Andrea and Rusty keep deciding to have children? Having one child can be very hard when money is tight and living quarters are cramped, why keep adding dependents?

From what I understand, Rusty agreed to have Andrea commited to a mental hospital on at least two occassions. Is this what she really needed? Andrea has been on and off psych drugs, sometimes taking large doses. Sometimes not taking psych drugs at all. Andrea had thoughts about murdering the children months before it happened. She even filled the bathtub up with water a month prior to the murders.

Still, given this seemingly clear premeditation to get rid of the children, the new verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity unfairly pushes some responsibility off of Rusty Yates. Rusty claims to "in some respects know Andrea better than anybody." Okay, then why have such a large family? What was the purpose? What was the reason? What was it going to lead to? I think Rusty ought to share some of Andrea's punishment.

The psychiatrists who treated her and the pharmaceutical companies whose dangerous psychiatric drugs she did take are also getting let off the hook. This isn't right. Andrea would deserve the needle if she murdered her children without ever being put on dangerous psychiatric drugs. The evidence and the links to suicidal/homicidal ideation when taking drugs like Effexor run aplenty. A federal investigation needs to be launched into the depths to which adults act on such ideation. Is it appropriate for the makers of dangerous psychiatric drugs to sit in prison? It should be.

Given all this, it still stands to reason that everyone has considered every angle on this sick case except one. Justice for five children who were murdered in a terrible way. At the hands of their mother. The person who gave birth to them. The person who was supposed to be their strongest and sweetest protector, drowned them one by one by one by one by one with her own hands. With what these hands did, they belong in prison, not a mental hospital.

Zizza is a freelance writer who resides in Atlanta, GA. He writes frequently about mental health and social issues.

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