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Attorney Addresses Press About Plans for Prosecuting Texas Mother Who Killed Her Children

Aired June 22, 2001 - 08:42   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, live to Houston, to hear the prosecutor in the Andrea Yates case, and whether he might pursue the death penalty.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOE OWMBY, PROSECUTOR: ... Bob Scott for the defendant, and that's basically all that happened today.

QUESTION: Did Mrs. Yates say anything? We thought we saw her talking.

OWMBY: She answered the question as to whether she was indigent or not, that she did not have funds to hire a counsel at this time.

QUESTION: But when the judge said, Do you understand the charges against you, there was long silence, and we thought Mrs. Yates was speaking at that point. Was she?

OWMBY: I don't think so, except to say she understood. I don't think so.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: Yes, that's all.

QUESTION: Was the probable cause read in there today?

OWMBY: No, I wasn't there when the probable cause was read. The other prosecuting attorney handled that. I wasn't there. If probable cause was read -- it may have been, but I don't know.

QUESTION: Is there a way we can talk to Caitlin (ph), to see if we can put it here and if it was read?

OWMBY: If you can find Ms. Wilford (ph), she may talk to you.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: No, the judge did not give us a date. We'll probably get one within the next couple of days.

QUESTION: Can you tell me who asked for the gag order? OWMBY: The attorney that the judge appointed this morning. Bob Scott asked for a gag order.

QUESTION: What did the judge decide?

OWMBY: The judge did not issue a gag order. We're not going to talk about the case or the proceedings except to answer questions about settings anyway. We're not going to try the case out here. So whether the judge ordered a gag order or not, the effect is the same thing: I'm not going to talk about the case.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: Sorry?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: That's correct.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: There's actually not two counts of capital murder. The only charge that I'm aware of, at this time, is the charge we saw yesterday, a charge of capital murder for killing two people in the same transaction, Noah and John.

QUESTION: Why only those two?

QUESTION: Why not five?

OWMBY: We haven't made all the charging decisions yet. That was what was charged so far.

QUESTION: Do you know when you'll make those decisions?

OWMBY: Not precisely. We anticipate presenting the case to the grand jury within 30 days, depending on what the district attorney, Mr. Rosenthal, decides in the interim.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: I talked to the judge on the way out, and she had not set a reset date as yet.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that there was a videotaped interrogation?

OWMBY: I'm not going to talk about the case at all.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Any plans to seek the death penalty?

OWMBY: It's too early to do that. I wouldn't be at liberty to discuss it at this point anyway.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: Only what I've read in the press.

QUESTION: Mr. Owmby, are you under a time deadline as far as deciding on whether or not you'll seek the death penalty...

(CROSSTALK)

OWMBY: No, we're not under a time deadline. Because of some requirements as to holding without bond, we are under an obligation to present the case to the grand jury within 90 days.

QUESTION: Did the judge appoint an attorney?

OWMBY: Yes.

QUESTION: Who is that?

OWMBY: Bob Scott.

QUESTION: Bob Scott.

QUESTION: Why did you only choose the two-counts?

OWMBY: She's charged with capital murder. Usually in a charge of capital murder, all acts like that eventually come into trial anyway, so the charging decision was made by whoever filed the charges, to just file that case. That's not a final decision; that's a preliminary decision.

QUESTION: So more charges are possible?

OWMBY: It is possible that we could just prosecute that case or charge a different case.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: The probable cause was not of record. What will be in the file is only the complaint, which is basically just the charge.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: As I said before, Miss Wilford (ph) was in the courtroom when it happened.

QUESTION: Do you know when you might have that probable cause ready or filed for the record?

OWMBY: The way the procedures work in Harris County, there will be no probable cause filed. Later, there may be an evidentiary hearing on bond, but that's the only possibility of filing anything. We have no reason to file a written probable cause, and that's normal procedure in Harris County.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: We've talked to him already, just briefly. We spoke to him. When do I expect? I don't know. He may call me this afternoon. He may not. I don't know.

QUESTION: Was he in the courtroom?

OWMBY: Yes.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: Either 701 San Jacinto or Baker Street. You'd have to ask the sheriff that.

QUESTION: Was the husband in the court room?

OWMBY: I don't know.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

OWMBY: We'll be reviewing the police file, meeting with the investigators, and making decisions like we've been talking about, what exactly to charge. We will be preparing, as we always do, for an eventual trial, whether that happens or not. That's what we'll be doing.

QUESTION: Can you speak as to your experience as a prosecutor to the nature of this crime at all-- not specifically about the crime in itself, that five children were killed -- I mean, that's not everyday occurrence in Harris County, obviously.

OWMBY: That's not everyday you occurrence anywhere. It's not an everyday occurrence in the world. I've been here 15 years. I have not seen the cases that others have seen. This is the most horrendous thing that I have ever seen.

QUESTION: Could you say you name and spell it for me?

OWMBY: It's Joseph Owmby, Joe Owmby, O-W-M-B-Y.

QUESTION: Thanks, Joe.

LIN: You're listening to Joe Owmby. He is one of two prosecutors who are going to be prosecuting a Houston mother, Andrea Yates.

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