CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Closing Arguments in Andrea Yates Murder Trial
Aired March 12, 2002 - 10:34 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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to be stepping away from this conversation President Bush is having with the volunteers in Philadelphia and take you to courtroom in Houston, Texas, where the closing arguments are beginning now in the Andrea Yates' murder trial.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
JOSEPH OWMBY, PROSECUTOR: I know that this whole three-week process has been much harder on you than it has been on me, or any of the counsel that are here, because I know you've been away from your families, and your homes, and the things that you are used to for this three weeks, or three and half weeks.
This is the final argument, and I know that you cannot help, but be glad to hear the word "final" in connection with this case, but This is final argument.
I told you during voir dire how the case would unfold, that the state would present the case in chief, the evidence concerning the deaths of these children, because the state bears the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Andrea Pia Yates murdered Noah, John and Mary Yates. And that was the evidence that you received during the first part of the trial.
The defense devoted a great daily of its affirmative defense on the issue of insanity to Andrea Yates hospitalization and the amount of times that she was in hospitals and sick with a major depressive disorder. And we don't challenge that.
And let me tell you what this case is about, because you are going back to the jury room, and you may be thinking now, how do you deal with three weeks of evidence and transcripts, and let me tell you what this case is about. This case is about the law on insanity and what it says and what it means and the implications it holds for the society. It is about prevention, it is about deterrence of conduct. It's about why we say the law is that you have to know right from wrong and why we don't say that the product of your mental illness is enough for you to be found insane.
You look at the standards on insanity, this is law in the case, this is the law in the case, section 801. Affirm to the defense that the prosecution that the actor did not know that his conduct is wrong, does not say it not know that the motive for the conduct was right, doesn't say the actor believed that this was the best thing for her children. It says the actor didn't know that his conduct was wrong as a result of the severe mental disease of defect.
Did they have the cognitive ability to know that this was wrong? That's what this law is asking you? And it's in the charge. It's repeated in the charge. Do you have the charge? It's repeated in the charge, as the judge read to you, the affirmative defense of insanity, the same law that you've seen in 801.
Do you have a slide insanity standards?
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) Insanity standards.
HARRIS: You don't hear anything, because nothing is being said right now, technical problem, Joseph Owmby waiting for his Powerpoint screen to come up, and it appears he has that now.
OWMBY: Insanity standards. There it is.
We talked about the various laws as they had developed over history in Texas. We talked about a test that was called "the wild beast test" from 1724, so deprived of reason that a person didn't know right from wrong in a global sense ever. That's not the law in Texas.
We talked about an irresistible impulse, like Dr. Resnik was saying, what could she do, faced with this cruel dilemma? She had to do something. But that's not the law in Texas. It was, in fact, removed from Texas law in 1983.
We talked about the McNaughton rule, which is the law in Texas, the right/wrong standard of insanity.
We talked about next the Durham rule not responsible if it's a product of the mental illness. She may have believed that it was in the best interests of the children. She may have believed the cause of her mental depression that it was in the west interest of the children to drown them, one after the other, but that's no the law in Texas.
We talked about the last standard, the model penal code and the language is different, and that's not the law in Texas.
And you can remember even Dr. Deitz got confused about a case in Hawaii and couldn't remember whether it was this standard or some other standard, but different from Texas standard. There's no substantial qualifier under Texas law. There's nothing about appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct. Do they know it's wrong? All of that language they talk about whether you appreciate is not the law. And the standard is strict for a reason.
Dr. Rosenblatt told you that. Dr. Rosenblatt told you it's not what she thinks she ought to do. That was Dr. Rosenblatt's testimony. Dr. Osterman told you, it's not what she thinks is right, that's not the law in any jurisdiction.
But the defense devoted a lot of her case to her mental illness. I'm not going to talk to you for very much longer at this point in time. The defense will address you in a few moments. Both their lawyers will likely address you, Miss Williford will address you, and I will close the argument this morning.
One of the things that sometimes happens with juries, especially in a trial where there's this much testimony and evidence is -- and it's understandable and it makes sense, is that you begin to think what you should do is start reviewing the witness transcripts, going over the testimony, and you've heard talk in here about daily transcripts, heard the talk about daily transcripts being riddled with error, that an error-filled document that can be produced, a kind of rough thing that sometimes lawyers help them remember what the testimony was.
The judge told you, and I see you don't have your notepads with you at this time, that you wouldn't be able to take your notes in the back. So what happens sometimes is jurors think, and quite logically, that they should be able to review transcripts and that is a way to deliberate, to go over the witness's transcripts, but that's not the law in Texas.
The law in Texas is this: You can get part of a witnesses' testimony read back if there is a dispute over what they said, a conflict. You know, it sometimes happens in cases where alibi is alleged. What did witness number one say? Did they say 1:00? Or did they say 2:00? Did they say 45 minutes, or did they say 50 minutes? We have to be sure. But in this case, you can't get all the transcripts, the law is, is that if you have a genuine conflict as to what a witness said, you can get the part of the testimony back. But in this case, this case is mostly based on principles. It is based on what the experts told you that they found as facts, not what they believe, and what you think the evidence shows you as far as section 801.
Do you remember what I told you, that these experts can come in here and they can help you; some of them are not so helpful. But they can help you, they can clarify issues, but it's up to you to make this decision, and that decision is based on common sense. And actually there's only one person that told you that, and it had to be forced from him, and that's Dr. Harry Wilson. When they finally made him say it, he told you, organized behavior, that's common sense. Most people think that's sanity. That's what I think. And that's what I think. If you make me say it, if you make me give an opinion that the jury is charged to give, I'll will give it to you -- she's sane.
I appreciate this opportunity to speak to you. I appreciate the opportunity to prosecute the deaths of Noah, John and Mary Yates. I appreciate the opportunity to stand for the state of Texas, for Harris County Texas, for the citizens of this state to hold the person that is criminally responsible for those deaths. It's not that I am without sympathy, it's not that you are without sympathy, but what you are asked to do at this point decide this case on the facts and law, not sympathy for Andrea Yates.
You're asked to decide this case on the facts and the law, not what you think may or may not happen to Andrea Yates after you render a verdict. That's what we ask you to do in voir dire. That's what you said you would do, and that's I think you will do, and I appreciate to opportunity to speak to you. HARRIS: Prosecutor Joseph Owmby, who is the lead prosecutor in this case, just wrapped up his portion of remarks. We're going to be going his partner Kaylynn Williford in just a moment.
Cynthia Alskne is still with us. She's in our Washington bureau and has been listening as well. What do you make of what we heard so far?
CYNTHIA ALSKNE, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think it was a huge waste of an opportunity to get to the meat of the case. It was rambling. It didn't get deeply into the facts, or the law, or the facts that supported the prosecution's theory. I think it was pretty bad, frankly.
HARRIS: Let's go back to the courtroom now. The defense is just now beginning its opening remarks.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
WENDELL ODOM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: ... Andrea Yates and her staff, we would like to thank you. It's been a long haul. It's been four weeks, and we know we've imposed on you greatly. We've imposed upon your time, your privacy. We've imposed on your emotions. We've imposed on your intellect. And we also understand that unlike very few people in this country, you've been imposed on in a situation that can only be understood by individuals that have been taken and subjected to all this, and put together and kept together, and just literally forced to handle decisions that aren't easy decisions. I mean, these are earth-shattering serious, serious decisions, and we know that's hard on you, and we know that you've had to put up with our lawyer annex for four weeks, and we know that there have been occasional emotional outbursts on our part. I hope you appreciate the fact that we're advocates, and that this is emotional, that we -- we're human too, and that our outburst are going to occur in a case like this.
You've been here for four weeks. You've heard 38 witnesses. Some of them -- lots of them more than once. That's amazing, and now you're asked to decide an ultimate issue. In essence, what you are really going to decide is something that, that, although the issue in dispute is hotly contested, one thing is not contested, every lawyer in this courtroom will tell you, and every lawyer in this courtroom will agree that you decide, you decide what "know" is and "wrong" is.
You heard all that stuff put on the screen about the McNaughton standard and Durham standard and all that. You heard the evidence, and everyone knows that it's up to the jury. You decide if knowing that her conduct is wrong means that she can understand that her conduct is wrong, in a sane way. You decide what wrong is. Is wrong the opposite of right? If she knows she's doing right, is her conduct wrong? You decide that. Everybody agrees with that.
What in essence you are asked to decide, the state's position is, well, she had some general concept of wrong and sin, therefore, you have to find her guilty. And what the defense tells you is that although she may be able to perceive that others might think that her conduct is wrong and although she may have general concept that you're not supposed to kill children, did she know her conduct was wrong when she was doing what she thought was the only thing in the world that could save her children from hellfire and damnation? And that's your decision.
And before I get into schizo-effective disorder, and schizophrenia and auditory hallucinations, and terminology I never dreamed about before I got into this case, and all of which I've heard way too much, I'd like to do something. I would like to make some observations, and I would like to make some general observations that aren't based upon flat effect or anything else. I'd like to open up those doors behind you. I'd like to theoretically open up the windows, and let some cool, fresh air of reason in this courtroom. I would like for minute to just kind of air out all this stuff about mental terms and phraseology, and what I'd like to do is just let's talk with common sense, on three issues, three observations that don't have to do with the experts and the terminology, but just has to do with common sense.
Number one, Andrea Yates was a loving mother, perhaps too much of loving mother. She was a loving mother. Have you heard evidence to contrary of that? I mean, we've some heard implications that she tried to kill her children to get out a trapped marriage. We heard some innuendo that perhaps she felt trapped and needed to get a new house, and that's why she killed her children, or maybe even we heard some evidence that she saw some show on TV and new she could drown children and get away with it. But have you heard any evidence that she was anything other than a loving mother? From state witnesses or defense witnesses? No.
Common sense, ladies and gentlemen, does a loving mother kill her five children if she knows it's wrong? It's just common sense. Second observation: One of the things I learned, I learned a lot about mental health, women's mental health, things I never dreamed of. And one of the things I learned more than anything else is mental health is a disease. We heard it a million times, not only heard, but learned it. Mental health is a disease. It's just like diabetes. It's not just like it, but it's a disease like diabetes. It's a disease like a heart attack. It's a disease like a stroke.
And ladies and gentlemen, every one of you, I suspect, that if you had a situation where truck driver has a stroke and runs over five children, you wouldn't find him guilty of murder, would you? Wasn't his fault. He had a stroke. He ran over five children. But somehow or another we treat mental illness different.
You know, it's kind of funny, if the person is driving this truck and he reaches to one side slumps over the wheel and runs over five children. He's had a prior incidence of stroke. He gets taken to the hospital; they confirm he's had a prior incidence of stroke, I suppose Dr. Park Deitz would say the following. He'd say, well, you know, he didn't follow doctor's orders, because he didn't reduce cholesterol like he was supposed to, and not only that, he kept eating steaks, even though the doctors told him to cut back on that sort of thing. And then Dr. Deitz would tell you not only that, but the last time he had a stroke, his wife said, you need some time off, why don't you take the fishing trip? He got something out of it. And then Dr. Deitz may say we don't have medical evidence that the stroke occurred before he ran over the five children. I mean, after all the medical evidence from the hospital.
So he might have run over the children, and that's a major stresser, running over those children, and that's when he might have had the stroke. Mental illness is a disease. It's a defect. And yet we continue to treat it like we did in the 20th, and the 19th century, like it really isn't, like it really isn't.
My third observation is this: What are we really doing here is that we know that Andrea Yates is an extremely sick person. Everybody knows that. There's no question about that. Park Deitz tells you on the 21st of June, she was grossly psychotic, grossly psychotic, implying, well, she might have been sane on the 21st, but what do we know about the 20th? Remember that testimony, we all know that this woman is and was extremely ill. Remember all the testimony from the witnesses about her ill she was.
But we're looking for -- or at least the state is looking for, a technicality on how to convict her, because some people simply do not want to accept the fact that you can be so mentally ill that you kill five people, because some people say five people being killed, that's all we want to hear, because some people, like Dr. Wilson, says I don't care if you had to be deceitful. Well, what is your evidence of deceit? You just have to have. You just have to be. This state argues -- let's convict her, and we can, because we've got this technicality.
And here's the technicality. She knew she was doing the right thing. The experts all agree on that. She thought she was saving her children. But technically, technically, we can say she had a general concept that the world perceives drowning people is wrong, so therefore, technically, you can convict her.
Let that kind air of common sense come in, and don't leave it at the chairs when you go into jury room. Use your common sense, ladies and gentlemen, if we have an insanity law, if we have an insanity law, and if Andrea Yates is not insane, then we just really don't have an insanity defense, do we? She's the sickest woman several of these doctors had ever seen. Are we going to convict her on a technicality?
Those are my observations. Now let's talk about what the witnesses said. And, as I pointed out, there's a lot of witnesses. The state brought several employees of the Houston police department, seven of them. They brought three medical examiners, three officers from the Harris County sheriff's department, they brought you Dora Yates, and they brought you a bookstore owner. The defense, in essence, brought you 11 doctors. Four of them were experts, defense experts that we presented to you. Two of them were employees of the state of Texas, they were Harris County employees that are assigned to the jail. Two more were Harris County employees that weren't doctors, but of the doctors, two of them belonged to Harris County. Five doctors we brought to you treated Andrea Yates at one time in the past. We brought you her therapist, we brought you four members of her family, and we brought one friend. And it's like everybody sees what they want to see and everybody views evidence the way they want to view it. I'll warn you that ahead of time. It's a saying, prejudice sees what it wants to see, and cannot see that which is plain. Well, one side of the other's is prejudice here, because one side or the other is missing something big.
The first witness the state brings you is Miss Stubblefield. She's the HPD dispatcher. Remember her, and they play a 911 tape. Now we went down that 911 tape, and what to me seemed apparent in that 911 tape -- do you hear the evidence? I cannot give you my personal opinion, although a closing argument, in essence, is my summary of the evidence.
You recall cross-examination, and you recall whether or not Andrea Yates could answer the why questions, the what questions or -- why to you need a policemen? What's going on? What is happening? Why do you need a policemen? Our position was she couldn't answer those questions. The state's position was in cross-examination that she refused to answer those questions. Remember that?
And therein you see the essence of this whole dispute. Prejudice sees what it wants to see and cannot see that which is plain. One side of her or the other just can't see the same thing the same way. I believe the evidence shows you, and you'll recall the evidence, that she could not answer the open-ended questions, but she could answer those concrete questions.
You go back and listen to that 911 tape. The next person is officer Knapp. Officer Knapp arrived at the front door. The first words out of Miss Yates' mouth was I just killed my kids. This is the women that's showing deception in killing these children. The children appeared as if they were talked in for the night, according to officer Knapp. Her eyes were open much larger than normal. She had no facial movement. She had lack of emotion.
The next officer is officer Stumpo. Officer Stumpo tells you that she's very stoic and calm. That's the way he sees her. She knew where the clean glasses were in the house and where the keys where. Also Stumpo, you'll remember, is the one that drove her to station and cranked up the talk show radio so she could hear what was being said about her on the radio. You'll recall that he tried to insinuate that he could look in the mirror and tell that she was ashamed of what she had done. Remember that testimony? Prejudice sees what it wants to see. It cannot see that which is plain.
Officer Spann testified he handcuffed the defendant. Officer King finds the appointment book, and he goes into the bedroom and he says that the children are placed in such a way that Mary is placed under John's arm I believe it is, as though she had been tucked in and though he's holding Mary.
And the state puts on Dora Yates, and Dora Yates is the first person you start hearing what Andrea was like before this happened. She tells you what she was like before this happened. Now we didn't just spend a lot of time talking about medical conditions and hospitals. We spent time about telling you what she was like, what she was like at the house, what she was like in the house right before September the 20th. Dora Yates tells you that she's catatonic, that she stares into space for up to two hours at a time. She tells you that she trembled. She patted her foot.
She scratched her head bald. She kept scratching her head bald. What's significance of that? We asked her where she scratched her head. Later on, we asked Dr. Ferguson, well, where is that these 666s are, and she points to same place on her head that was described by Dora Yates. That's the significance of that. That's why they were on Dr. Lucy's board. She's scratching her head when Dora sees her in the same place, according to testimony, by Dr. Ferguson that she scratching, and that she tells her is the sign of Satan on her.
And Doctor Deitz acknowledges that when he looks at the jail records as she goes in, there are fresh scratches on her head. And she's not psychotic on the 20th?
Dora Yates tells you that on the 19th of June, when she has Mary on her hip kind of protruding forward and backward, that she's pacing around in the living room, back and forth, back and forth. She does kind of like a figure eight was the way I heard it. Maybe it was a circle, but she's doing her pacing that she does, and she's -- and the kids are watching the cartoons, and suddenly Andrea becomes transfixed for 45 minutes in mid stride and stares at the cartoons. Now why is that significant? That's significant because she later tells Dr. Ferguson, the next -- two days later, that the cartoons are talking to her, and that the cartoons are talking to the children.
She's psychotic, ladies and gentlemen. She's hallucinating. She also tells us that Andrea Yates is a loving mother. Officer West, he takes photographs, numerous photographs about the house. We see the photographs of the children laid out on the bed. It's very tragic and it's very sad, but you see them the way they're laid out there, the officers put it, but you also see other photographs. You see photographs of toys, and you see photographs of dogs, and you see photographs of the suburban household where a loving mother at one time had a normal lifestyle, and it's in stark contrast, stark contrast to those five bodies in the bed.
Ladies and gentlemen, a loving mother does not drown her children if she's knows that her actions are wrong. He did not film the defendant. He was not asked to. And that's crucial, and that's important, because their whole Dr. Deitz -- the whole basis of his theory is on the fact that she wasn't as psychotic -- if she was psychotic on the 20th, than she was on the 21st. Why does he you that, because he has to tell you that, because buzz he knows, everybody knows how crazy she was on the 21st. So he hasn't seen the empirical evidence that it was there on the 20th. After all, the drowning of the children could have kicked into the psychosis. After all, having her clothes taken away could have kicked her into that psychosis.
They didn't film her, but we did see some film footage from various TV stations, and what did that show us? Not a lot. We never got to see what she looked like on the 20th, but we could have. If Officer Mill would have turned on the switch that was in that room and filmed it, we could have seen what she was like when she did that confession. Remember that. But that's not his pattern, that's not his policy, so he didn't do it.
We just have this sound of the confession.
But remember officer Mill's confession, why did you drown the children? "Flatline." nothing. Nothing. Nothing. And Andrea Yates wasn't psychotic on 6-20?
And one thing that officer Mills stated I thought very significant, he said she couldn't answer who, what or why questions, but the defendant lips quivered as though she wants to tell you something. Why is that important? It's important because later on you find out that they give her Ativan, it relaxes her, and she starts spilling her guts. All of the psychosis that's in there, that's been bottled up there all this time, comes bubbling out on the 21st. That's why it's important. She wanted to say something. She couldn't say something. She was psychotic.
We heard from Dr. Sanchez, Moore and Norella (ph). Those are medical examiners. And all three of those doctors told you that these were healthy children and they were drowned. And we saw a lot of horrible picture. And they were drowned. And they were healthy children, because when she's not psychotic, grossly psychotic, when she's not insane, she is a loving mother. But you know what, even when she's insane, she's a loving mother. It's just her mind, her mind did not know what right was and what wrong was. It got it all confused, didn't it? We put on Dr. Melissa Ferguson.
You go look at Dr. Ferguson's notes. You look at those notes. They're in evidence. I won't dwell on them. She talks about the Ativan. She talks about all the psychosis. She goes in there, and out it comes out, and Dr. Ferguson tells you something very significant. She's not hired by the defense. She's not hired by the state. She's hired to treat people in the jail. She treats all kinds of people in the jail. She's testified many times before on the issue of sanity, for both sides apparently.
And what does she tell you? She tells you she's one of the sick I sickest people she's ever seen. That's what she tells you. And that's a theory you keep hearing over and over again from the doctors. And that's common sense.
That doesn't take a whole lot of medical analysis to -- when a doctor tells you she's one of the sickest people I've ever seen, what are they telling you? Look at Dr. Ferguson's notes. Nurses Garcia and Veilis (ph) tell you that for a period of time, she was responding to internal stimuli, and she was having hallucinations. And those notes are in evidence.
The defense puts on Dr. Ringholz. And what does Dr. Ringholz tell you? First of all, he is the chief behavioral neurologists and the chief of the Baylor College of medicine, neurology and neuropsychology department. He's called in in December, because Dr. Puryear, who's treated her, says something isn't right. These diagnosis on depression, they just don't fit, so he comes in, and through Dr. Puryear's persuasion, or perhaps Mr. Parnham's persuasion, he does a whole battery of tests. In his conclusions, the defendant was acutely psychotic prior to, during and after the death of her children. She schizophrenic, and we learned what schizophrenia was. I don't think I need to show that to you. You had it thrown up to 100 times. You get to take that chart back. You know what schizophrenia is. She's schizophrenic.
Now, is that in contrast to her having post-partum depression? No. And he tells you that. He said that someone who's schizophrenic, that has the mental disease of the brain disorder of schizophrenia is more likely after the birth of her children to have a post-partum depression than anyone else. What for other women might be the baby blues for a schizophrenic is an all-out major onslaught of psychosis and depression in some cases.
Then he tells you that based on his experience as a psychiatrist, psychologist and as a neurologist, that she did not know the difference between right and wrong. And the state says, well, you don't do many of these, you don't do many insanity definitions. You're not a professional witness. How can you give us an opinion? He can give us an opinion because he's a trained professional. They can give you an opinion. He knows more about the state of a human mind than I do. That's what he does for a living. He can tell you, just like you look at the definitions of right and wrong -- he can tell you she did not know that her actions -- she did not know that her actions were wrong at the time.
We next take you off Dr. Flack. Remember him. Dr. Flack tells you, well, I saw her after her first suicide attempt, after she was taken in to Bintab (ph) and taken in to Memorial. I remembered her. I see thousands of patients. Why do you remember her, Dr. Flack? I remembered her, because she was so sick, that's why I remember her.
Dr. Thompson, he referred her over to Dr. Starbranch. This is important. He realized that she wasn't responding to him. He's a male psychiatrist, and realized that she really wasn't connecting with him. So he says maybe she will do better with a female psychiatrist, and he refers her over to Dr. Starbranch, because Dr. Starbranch is on her hospital list. Dr. Starbranch says something wrong is here, sends Miss Yates to Dr. Thompson. Dr. Thompson does some tests, and determines that there's multiple evidence of psychosis and depression, voices and images. He recommends ACT treatment. He's only done that like six to eight times in his entire career. That's how sick she was.
Dr. Starbranch diagnoses her as a psychotic -- post-partum depression was psychosis. Says I'm not sure about the schizophrenia, someone needs to rule that out. Dr. Starbranch calls it is correct. She sees it correct. She recognizes for what it is. She says no more children, you do this again, you have another child, it will be worse, it will be twice as worse, perhaps, and that's why we spent all of this time on this medical testimony, because that's exactly what happens, if you have it once and this bad, and you have it again, it's going to be even worse. That's why we talk about the medical testimony, and that's what Dr. Starbranch tells the Yates.
But they will have as many children as they think that God entitles them to. So they ignore her directions. She gets off the medication, and they have more children.
Dr. Starbranch testified, I remember Andrea Yates from 1999 and 2000. Why? You don't forget an Andrea Yates. She was that sick.
You see a recurring pattern amongst these doctors?
She puts her on Haldol, and gets her back to a baseline, her baseline of normalcy, as dr. Puryear calls it. You heard from Randy Yates, Rusty Yates' brother. He comes to visit on Memorial Day weekend. What does he tell you? She never even knows I'm there, or if she does, she never acknowledges me. She doesn't say good-bye. This isn't the same Andrea Yates I'd ever seen before.
You hear from Russell Yates. Russell Yates tells you that she's a loving mother. What can I say about Russell Yates? Russell Yates acknowledges, I made some mistakes, I didn't appreciate what mental illness can be or what it can do, but he also acknowledges that at the end, he was relying on Dr. Saeed, and he tells you, well, I'm not a doctor. Maybe I am controlling, but I'm no doctor.
You can't fault Russell Yates for Andrea's sickness. Maybe Andrea's sickness could have been prevented, but you can't fault other people for the fact that she got sick. It's like a disease, because it is a disease.
You heard from Patrick Kennedy, Andrea's brother. After the death of father, she had this strange concept that it was her fault. She had guilt, out of proportion guilt. She told him Satan is in me, after the death of her father. Elaine Wilcott (ph) tells you that she is a loving mother.
And you hear from Debbie Holmes. Debbie Holmes says in words that I can't tell you, what it must be like to be in a house where someone is that mentally ill. You remember what Debbie Holmes tells you, but the thing that gets in my mind, the testimony that sticks the most, is when Debbie Holmes say, "Andrea, what are you thinking, when she is just off staring off into the Netherlands." Her response is "stuff." That's the way Debbie Holmes put it. What was she was thinking? She was thinking. She wasn't a good mother. She was thinking the devil is after her children. She was thinking all those crazy thoughts you heard on the tapes yesterday morning. That's what she was thinking. We bring you Dr. Rosenblatt.
Well, Dr. Rosenblatt is very interesting. He sees her on June the 25th, and he tells you that she doesn't believe she has any mental illness, tells you that although she's suffering from a severe psychosis and hallucinating, that she tells him she's done something wrong on the 25th.
What does he tell you? He said, I knew that, that present sense could not be relied upon, and he tells you why -- she'd been in jail, she'd been in custody, that she was so suggestible, that there's no telling where that thought that she knew she'd done something wrong came from. But yet that's the testimony that Dr. Deitz uses to base his opinion that she knew that her actions were wrong. Do you remember that? He didn't talk to Dr. Rosenblatt. He apparently didn't hear the testimony, but yet uses the basis of what Dr. Rosenblatt heard to form his opinion, and Dr. Rosenblatt says, I couldn't base any substantiation on those words.
And then under cross-examination, something interesting happens. He's reminded that he testified for the state for a lady that was schizophrenia in Montgomery County a few years ago, and he said that lady should be held responsible for her actions, the one in Montgomery County.
So we asked Dr. Rosenblatt, all right, compare the level of illness of the lady in Montgomery County with schizophrenia and Andrea Yates. And do you remember his response? It's not even close.
She was that sick, ladies and gentlemen.
You hear from Dr. Resnick. Dr. Resnick tells you a lot of things. Dr. Resnick, first of all, is a foremost authority on filicide. She's probably the world's foremost authority on filicide, and that's the death of children. Dr. Resnick tells you that she did not have a rationale motive, didn't have rationale thoughts. He tells you that there's different degrees of mothers killing their children. There's altruistic killings, or the acutely psychotic, unwanted child, fatal maltreatment or battered child, and spousal revenge.
What Andrea Yates was, an altruistic killing. She killed those children out of love, out of love, because a loving mother will do anything, anything to save what she perceives as a danger to her children. The prosecution tried to say, well couldn't it have been spousal revenge? They're not mutually exclusive. No, that's two that are mutually exclusive. If she's killing them out of love for the children, she's not doing out of any sort of spousal revenge. That's not just happening.
Dr. Resnick tells you that although she had a concept of right and wrong, a general concept about right and wrong, that she killed the children because she was doing what was right. She was sending them to God, and she was going to kill the one and only Satan that lived in her by being executed. He tells you that she loved the children so much that she was willing to die for them. She tells you that she was ready to sacrifice her life for her children, tells you that she wants to be executed, and he tells you that she had no alternative. You decide whether she knew that her conduct was wrong, when she had no alternative.
Therefore, he concludes, she did not know the difference between right and wrong. His testimony is really not all that different from Dr. Puryear's testimony, is it? You heard from Dr. Saeed and Dr. Albrit (ph). Dr. Albrit described her as a shell. Dr. Saeed basically testified before the grand jury that he saw no evidence of psychosis, and we all know why Dr. Saeed testified that way, too, because Dr. Saeed takes her off of the Haldol a few days before this drowning. And Dr. Saeed ignores all of his own notes and every other note that we saw in the medical records that indicated she was psychotic. And Dr. Saeed knows that he messed up big time.
If that's what Dr. Deitz faces his testimony, on her not being psychotic on the 20th, you think about that. The other doctors you saw and Dr. Saeed.
Dr. Osterman testifies, another witness that we didn't hire, that just comes to us, because she's hired by the county. She tells you the defendant believed what she was doing was the right thing to do. She believed it was the right thing to do. This isn't someone we pay money to come in and talk to you. This is someone that is an unbiased, for neither side witness.
Dr. Puryear tells you all about women's depression, and Dr. Puryear tells you the reason that she's having a psychotic disorder on the 20th of June, as well as the 21st of June. I won't go into great detail on that. I'll let Mr. Parnham talk to you about that.
But I'll put on the screen, she basically says, in general, the following: Number one, she drowned the children. If that's not a gross psychosis, what is, ladies and gentlemen of the jury? I mean, really, if drowning five children by loving mother isn't gross psychosis, there isn't anything such a gross psychosis. She has thought insertion and thought control prior to the 20th. See sees cartoons, she's scratching her head, she's hallucinating. She thinks the devil left the mark of demon on her head. She's pacing and staring.
There are medical replete with evidence of psychosis before the 20th. she's being given an antipsychotic. And even more important, when she's taken off of the antipsychotic, she drowns her five children that she loves. And then next, you just don't just become that psychotic. It takes time. And finally, finally, it's not until she sees a doctor on the 21st someone documents how truly grossly psychotic she is.
And we talked about the Ativan. It loosened her up. The state retaliates, with Terry Arnold, the bookstore owner, that tells us she's a loving mother, and they bring you Park Deitz. And Park Deitz is the one and only expert that they rely upon to tell you in his opinion, she knows that her actions were wrong.
Dr. Park Deitz has one heck of a reputation according to the defense, to the state. And he better. Because he doesn't treat any patients. And although he used to be affiliated with teaching, basically, you know what he does, he does this. People hire him to come testify for him, at $500 an hour. And although he estimated that he thought would be $50,000, you add up the hours that he's been in court, and you're over $50,000.
Look at his 100-page report. Well, of course he gave a 100-page report, he's charging the county $500 an hour, and he sends me a copy of his services that are available. You know the better -- the question that's always asked the experts that testify, well, how many times have you given an opinion on sanity? Every time, Park Deitz has testified, that planes that he has taken money and agreed with whatever side has given him the money. Think about that.
The better question would be how many times have you taken that money and said, no, I can't agree with you? We wouldn't know that, because that would be confidential, attorney-client confidential. We'd never know that. But I know one thing, that if had between $50,000 and $100,000 and we called him first, Park Deitz might have been testifying for the defense.
Park Deitz tells you the only thing he can do and keep his integrity. All right, she's really, really sick on the 21st, she's grossly psychotic on the 21st, but what about the 20th? You tell me, ladies and gentlemen, what about the 20th?
Dr. Wilson, Dr. Wilson tells you these people -- that she must be guilty because she drowned five children. If that's common sense, then I give up. If that's common sense, I may sit down. Because there's no reason for me to talk anymore. He tells you that she's deceptive, and he doesn't know anything about whether or not she's been deceptive. He doesn't know who took that bath mat out. He doesn't know what order those kids came in, as far as being called in or not called in. He doesn't know where the kids were. He didn't know what their routine was. He didn't know whether she tried to hide anything. How can he say that she was being deceptive when the truth of matter is, he didn't know?
But prejudice sees what it wants to and cannot see that which is plain. They called officer deputy Stevens. Deputy Stevens, and what can I say about Deputy Stevens. He records the events six months after the fact, tells you that he's supposed to be doing that, supposed to be doing exactly what he's doing, eavesdropping in on that conversation. He tells you it's his job to look at prisoners when they're naked, female prisoners, when they're naked in the cells, and he tells, you remember word for word what she says, and he also tells you that he's got a theory that Rusty Yates did the drownings. That's one of the people, along with Dr. Rosenblatt, that Park Deitz bases his opinion as to why she knew her actions were wrong.
Ladies and gentlemen, I can talk all afternoon, as my family can tell you, and I know you're restless, and I know you're moving around and you're tired of hearing me talking, but I have a confession to make, and that is that I'm scared to death right now. I am petrified. I'm scareder than I've ever been in a courtroom in my life. It's not because the world is watching, but what I'm really afraid of, what I'm really afraid of is that I'm standing up here, and I don't know if what I know that in this evidence, and what I know that I've seen and what I know I've heard. I don't know if I have the ability and the talent or just am able to communicate what is there and what's here and make it come out to you. I just don't know that I can do that, and that scares me to death, and the reason it scares me to death is because there might be a wrong result here.
Ladies and gentlemen, how many times do we not look at the facts? How many times will we say this is just a mental illness? If we don't look at this evidence, and if you don't look at this evidence and see that we have the greater weight of evidence that this woman is insane, then that will be one more time when our thin veneer of civilization, and Christianity has been swept aside, so that some poor, hated wretched woman can be dealt with. That's just one more time when we turned our back on our intellect, on the basis of deterrence, as we heard, deterrence for heaven's sake, do you think that any amount of conviction would have deterred Andrea Yates when she thought she was saving her children from hell? That's just one more time when we punish someone for her actions and don't ask why as to what her thoughts are. And it's just one more time when we are going to stick our heads in the sand and say, we live in the 19th and 20th century, even though it's the 21 century today.
Thank you, judge.
All I ask you to do is use your common sense. I can't say it any other way than what I've already said it. All I ask you to do is you decide what knowing that her actions were wrong really means. And you look at that evidence, and if you think there's more evidence, credible evidence, that says that woman is insane, then I pray you do the right thing.
HARRIS: Andrea Yates defense Wendell Odom there wrapping up his rather emotional closing argument. Let's bring back in our Cynthia Alskne now, who's standing by in Washington.
Cynthia, we saw here a totally different style, at least in the presentation, of the defense's closing argument here.
ALSKNE: Correct. It was very effective. It had a theme that made sense. His theme was "prejudice sees what it wants to see and cannot see that which is plain." He very effectively communicated that. He not only talked about the law, but went through each witness one by one how it supported him factually and legally.
HARRIS: Going to talk to you about that when can, but right now, we're going to go back to the courtroom because Miss Yates other attorney here, George Parnham, is now beginning his portion of the closing arguments.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GEORGE PARNHAM, YATES DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And you primarily have gotten to know us by way of your observations, and you've made certain opinions about the course of the course of this case and how this case has been presented. I want to take us back to our first introduction, and that was the time when you all were all individually questioned on the stand in the courtroom above us, and was called individual voir dire. And I recall that we talked about this case, and We talked about the horrific circumstances that you as a person and you as a group would hear as the evidence unfolded, and I told you that it would be tough. I told you that it would take an emotional toll on you. I told you that it would take an emotional toll on everybody in this courtroom, and if I said anything in voir dire that is in fact true, and hopefully, it was all true, that stands out.
Drowning five precious babies, and that's what they were, and they were her babies. The very lives that she brought forth into this world, as a mother, she took. And I implored you to please, please not allow that horrific set of circumstances: Noah, John, Paul, Luke, and precious Mary, to take your eye off the prize, to deflect your attention from the very issue that we must come to grips with in this case.
I believe you are here with us. Certainly, the mental aspect has been addressed by the prosecution. We have presented evidence that you will not hear repeated by me, Mr. Odom did a fine job in recapitulation -- recapitulating what you heard, but we will talk about the issue of mental illness.
Mr. Owmby and I agree on something. This is about prevention. This is an opportunity for this jury to evaluate the evidence in a case, and to make a determination about the status of women's mental health. Make no mistake, the world is watching. The evidence in this case hinges around -- and the decision hinges around a determination of "knowingly." Is "knowingly" a word of semantics? Is knowing the realization of a sick mind that despite what society thinks of what you are going to do, that, in fact, you know that it is right, and you're going to do it.
Mental illness, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, as I told you in voir dire, as I told you in opening statement, is the cruelest of mental illnesses. Dr. Puryear talked to you about that. It is cruel because it takes a mother's instincts of nurturing, loving, protection, caring for children, and it leaves them alone. Those are intact.
But what changes is the perception, from her mind's eye, of the reality. The dangers that are apparent to those -- that as she sees them, through her mind's eye, the dangers to her children, are not real. She believes they are real, she knows they are real. But because she loves and cares and protects and nurtures, she interrupts their lives because she knows, that if she doesn't, that they are headed for hell. Forever to live in the torment of hell. And she does the absolute unthinkable. Unspeakable, unbelievable, and non- understandable. We can't.
The danger in this case is, that we can't, first of all, allow the horrific circumstances to take and deflect our view in this case from the issues. And secondly, we can't permit objective logic to be imposed on the actions of Andrea Yates. We can't do that for a couple of reasons.
First of all, because we are told in the definition that it is, in fact, that it is the mind's eye of the actor. We're told we are to look at her actions through her eyes at the time of the drownings. The mentally deranged, the sick mind of Andrea Pia Yates at the time it was taking place. When we cause that nexus, that is, as a result of a mental disease and/or defect, did she know that her actions were wrong?
And the second reason that we can't do it, is because if we superimpose our understanding of what wrongfulness is, or our understanding of what knowing is, then we are using an objective test which we're told not to do in the definition of insanity. We are told that she is to be judged by this jury based upon her determination. As a result of a severe mental disease or defect, her determination as to the actions as to whether or not those actions were wrong.
I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen of this jury, if Andrea Pia Yates -- we can get caught up in semantics, and we can get caught up in legality, and we can get caught up in these concepts, and we can get caught up in expert's testimony about what they think is right and wrong, but if this woman doesn't meet the test of insanity in this state, then nobody does. Zero. We might as well wipe it from the books. She was so psychotic on June the 20th, so psychotic on June the 20th that she absolutely believed what she was doing was the right thing to do for those children. Everything else dictates otherwise.
We've got the loving mother issue. We've got the fact that she nurtured those children. I want you to do a couple of things when you go back on that issue of loving mother to the jury room. You are entitled to take all this evidence. You asked for it. But you take a home movie tape, and that tape will have her voice on it.
And you take a Valentine, that's in evidence, that this woman made for her son, and you take those items back and you take those home schooling journals, and you go through and you make a determination as to whether or not the evidence in this case on that issue of loving motherhood, whether or not the evidence in this case not only suggests, but tells you as a jury, that this act of drowning your child in and of itself is so adverse to her entire past history, that it, in and of itself, speaks to the level of her insanity on June the 20th.
We know from Dr. Dietz, as Mr. Odom suggested, that he relied on a couple of experts in this case. A lay expert by the name of Deputy Stephens. Deputy Stephens tells you that he listened in, eavesdropped, overheard, a conversation between Dr. Ferguson and Andrea Pia Yates, when Dr. Ferguson was evaluating Andrea Pia Yates. You remember that testimony. Deputy Stephens said that seven or eight months later, or six months later, he decides that he has got this case figured out, and he is going to reduce these items to writing. And he is going to not only reduce them to writing, but he's going to come up with a theory, an investigative theory, and solve this case for the prosecution. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes about Deputy Stephens.
But what happens when a man by the name of Park Dietz, an individual with a -- been in all the major cases, been relied upon and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the people that hire him. What happens when he utilizes and incorporates the observations of a Deputy Stephens into his evaluation on the issue of wrongfulness of Andrea Yates on June the 20th?
Not only does he rely on Deputy Stephen's comments, but he relies on Dr. Rosenblatt, our witness. We brought you Dr. Rosenblatt, and Dr. Rosenblatt testified that despite the comment on wrongfulness, that it was incredible, couldn't rely on it, and Dr. Dietz did, and Dr. Dietz relied on Deputy Stephens's observations as well. We know that Dr. Dietz did agree with the conclusions reached by the mental health experts that testified in this case for the defense, that Andrea Pia Yates was suffering, in all probability, according Dr. Dietz's testimony, from an underlying thought disorder called schizophrenia, that superimposed on schizophrenia was a major depressive disorder that was triggered by postpartum onset with psychotic features.
We bring you Dr. Lucy Puryear. Dr. Puryear, a pioneer in the area of women's mental health, uncontradicted. One of 20 in this country. Started the clinic for women's behavioral mental health issues at Baylor College of Medicine. Still in the process of research, we're at a frontier, developing issues, developing reasons for, developing, hopefully, preventions, so that something like this can be stopped in the future. You know, there's an opportunity for this jury, and it's not one of sending a message to mothers, Don't kill your children or you are going to end up being prosecuted. If that's the message that the state wants to send, then I hope you're not the messenger.
The opportunity in this case is to take Andrea Pia Yates, and to take this set of circumstances, and to take the deaths of those children, and help further this area, help this case be a springboard so that things like this, in the future, have less of a chance of happening. I'm concerned that these children, Noah, John, Paul, Luke, and Mary, will have died in vain. I pray that this jury will come back with a verdict, and I hope that their lives will mean something in the future. Thank you very much.
HARRIS: George Parnham, Andrea Yates's other attorney -- defense attorney, in this case, wrapping up his portion of the defense closing argument. It looks as though we are going to be hearing momentarily from Kaylynn Williford, who is the other prosecutor who is working this case, so Cynthia Alksne is standing by in Washington. You stand by, we'll get back to you as soon as we finish up hearing these remarks.
KAYLYNN WILLIFORD, PROSECUTOR: It was a normal morning. That's what Rusty Yates told you. Rusty Yates told you that on the morning of June 20th, he left after kissing the children good-bye, he saw that his wife was getting bowls of cereal for them, he saw that she was getting cereal for himself, and he thought everything was okay. And we know that the routine had been changed. Dora Yates, who had been there since April 19th, wasn't coming everyday at 9:00 when he left, wasn't staying until 5:30 or 6:00 when he got home, because, according to Dora Yates, and according to Rusty Yates, she was getting better. According to them, they felt those children were safe with this woman.
Do you remember the testimony of Dora Yates, when she testified on behalf of the state? She didn't want to recall any of the information she had told on June 20th to Boyd Smith, because she had told Boyd Smith she seemed like a woman who did not have any joy or peace, but who knew what was going on. She knew what was going on. And ladies and gentlemen, that's the key here. Andrea Yates knew right from wrong, and she made a choice on June 20th to kill her children deliberately, with deception. We are going to talk about how that comes through her words. Let's talk about what happened on June 20th. Rusty Yates leaves a little after 9:00. And, according to her statement which is in evidence, we know she immediately begins to fill the tub. Because for some two years, according to her statement, two years, she has been harboring thoughts of hurting her children. Two years. She had made the decision, we know, through the testimony of other witnesses, through her own words the night before. So she begins to fill the tub. And the children are in the kitchen eating breakfast.
How do you know that? Look at the crime scene photographs. Look at the little bowls of cereal that are taken over, and set next to the counter to be cleaned. Look at them. It tells a story. And that's one thing that this case and all the experts can't refute: what happened in that household. And Dr. Wilson told you what happened in the household, looking at her statement.
We know that she took Mary into the bathroom. Mary was somewhere in the bathroom, while the children were eating breakfast. And what does she do? According to her statement, Paul is brought in there, and Paul is put into the tub, forced under the water, for at least three minutes. That's how long it takes for him to lose consciousness. I'm not going do it at this time, but I would ask to you do something when you go in the back and you begin deliberations. I would ask that you take at least three minutes of silence and sit there in silence and realize how long it takes for a child to lose voluntary control over their body.
And then what happens? Well, how is she deceptive? What did she do that was deceptive? Read her statement, ladies and gentlemen. She took Paul into the back room and covered his body. Eric now (ph) -- You covered his entire body? Yes. Why does she cover him? Because she doesn't want to let the other children know what's going on in the household. Why? Because Paul -- I mean, Paul is now gone. Because Noah and because John are old enough to get out of that house, get to a phone, get help, if they discover what is going on.
What does she do next? She takes the next to smallest one, Luke. And she places him in the tub and, you know, he struggles. And after he is taken out of the tub, she takes him and she lays him next to Paul and covers his body. It is in the statement, the deceptiveness.
Then what does she do? She calls John in there. She tells John to get in the tub. Did he do what she told him? No. What did you do? I put him in the tub. Do you remember the bruises Dr. Moore told you about, the deep bruises on his elbow, the bruises on his head, the pattern that Dr. Wilson tells you as she pulled the legs out from underneath these children? She controlled him until he lost voluntary control over his body. What does she do at that time? She takes him out. Remember the physical evidence? In John's little fist is her hair. He fought. He didn't want to die.
And then, what does she do? She puts Mary in the tub. Mary was the easiest. According to her, she just had -- and the physical evidence, she just had to pin her down to the bottom of the tub and she leaves there. This is, ladies and gentlemen, where I want to you look at the loving act of a mother.
Noah's not in there. She calls Noah in, according to her statement. She leaves Mary's body floating in the water when she calls him in there. What's wrong with Mary? I didn't answer him. Did he try to get away? Yes. Was he able to run or what? I got him. She got him. And the loving act of that mother was to leave his body floating in the tub.
I'm going to come back and talk to you in a little bit about what those children went through. But that's what happened within this hour of time. And then what does she do? She picks up the phone and calls 9-1-1. Immediately after the fact, Dora is not there yet. She picks up the phone, I need the police. She is transferred to a dispatch operator, who told you she typed in the system to send an officer out there. Why do you need the police? I just need him to come. I need him here. She doesn't disclose that she has just saved her children. She doesn't disclose that the great Satan is in her, that she needs to be executed. I need a policeman to come. The defense would argue that because all these different officers didn't videotape her appearance, they were trying to conceal something from you.
Ladies and gentlemen, each of those officers came and took the stand and told you about their observations of Ms. Yates on June 20th, information that their doctors didn't think was relevant. And their words can convey to you the picture, and speak to you beyond what a video camera can tell you.
Officer Knapp was the first one that arrived. Stumpo was being dispatched, but he got there first. He walked to the door, he knocked on the door, and said, What's your emergency? She looked him eye to eye and said, I killed my kids. Not, I saved my kids. Not, I am the great Satan, and I need to be executed because of the cruel dilemma I have been in. I killed my kids. And he was shocked. What? I killed my kids.
He told you, as it came in, and it is in evidence, that as he looked at the tile floor, he saw two sets of wet foot prints. Do you remember that? It is very important evidence, because Noah tried to get away. Those little wet foot prints, in confusion, as he saw his sister floating in the tub, no words of comfort, as Dr. Dietz told you, tried to get away. He got as far as the dining room table before she took him back into that room.
And Officer Knapp told you, she took him to the back bedroom, and there he saw a small little arm, Luke's arm, hanging out from the bed, the children completely covered. The defense has said, Oh well, let's look at Mary, she had her brother's arms cupped around her, this act of comfort, this act of love. That is no act of love.
She didn't even tell Officer Knapp where Noah's body had been left, left floating in the vomit and the feces and the urine that had been expelled in the fright of the four that had gone in that tub before him. She didn't drain the water. She didn't put a pillow underneath his head. She didn't cover him up. And what does he do? He puts her on the couch, and Officer Stumpo arrives. Officer Stumpo tells you, I walked in there and I discovered Noah floating in the tub. And I walked over to her, and I looked at her, and I looked her eye to eye, and I said, Do you know what you have done? And she looked him eye to eye, and said, Yes, I do. And she sat there in silence. Not that, I've saved my children. I know what I have done.
Ladies and gentlemen, you've got to realize how important the evidence from this scene is, because these officers all had observations about what she was saying, how she was acting. And let's talk about how psychotic and disorganized this woman was. She is oriented. She is answering questions. When officer King arrives, after she has been taken into custody, she signs a consent to search. She okays clothes, that are taken with her before she is taken to homicide.
When Officer Stumpo is there, and there are people going in and out of the house, feeling concern for the husband, he asked, are there -- you know, he is looking for clean glasses, and she makes a spontaneous statement, there's clean glasses over there. When she looks out -- when he looks outside the window and sees the bus, the bus that is parked in the driveway, the bus they used to live in that she was expected to school four children in after delivering a baby, and says, Oh, they must travel a lot. She makes the remark, No, we used to live in there.
When he goes to take her out the back door because he doesn't want to take her out the front, where all of the media have gathered, he doesn't want to take her out the front where her husband is, he realizes something. The back door is locked. French doors are locked, and there's no key. He is locked in, without a key, without a way to take her out the back. Where are those keys? He makes a statement, Great, the door's locked. And she tells him exactly where the keys are. We don't know when those doors were locked. We don't know who locked those doors. We don't know why the key was taken out, but we know when she put her plan into effect, those doors were locked and the key was not in them. Planning.
Then what happens? We know that Sergeant Savaan (ph) had arrived earlier. We know Sergeant Savaan greeted Rusty Yates, who ran up in a distraught state, saying, I got a call from my wife. She told me to come home. And what Savaan says, Well, who are you, what's going on. My wife called me. She told me it's time to come home, I finally did it, I hurt all five of the kids. Not, I saved the children. Not, I'm Satan. The defense would have you believe that she's psychotic, she's disorganized, she doesn't know what's going on, and only the Ativan is what brings this out.
But ladies and gentlemen, according to her, and their testimony, she couldn't say what would happen out loud because it would cause it to happen, but the act had been completed. There was no reason, at this point, for her to conceal what had happened. She is transported down to homicide. Eric Mehl comes in contact with her. Goes through her warnings, what she understands, and she answers all his questions except one. Why did you drown the children? Why? What is your motive? Why did do you this?
And that's the question she chooses not to answer, because her motive in killing these children is maybe not for us to know, but it can be determined from the evidence at the scene and her actions. Maybe she decided, at that point in her life, that going into the hospital and being ill, she still got put back into the same situation. Maybe she wanted to punish Rusty for what she had been through. Maybe she wanted to punish the children from taking her away from her father, and not being able to spend time with him, as a nurse, as he died. We don't know what her motivation was. But she never told Mehl, Knapp, Stumpo, Savaan (ph), King, any of those officers, that she killed the children to save them.
Talked about the fact that everyone talked about what a loving mother she was. I want you to recall some testimony. Recall the testimony of Debbie Holmes. On cross-examination, I asked her, Ms. Holmes, didn't you describe to Dr. Dietz how Andrea believed her children to be? Didn't you tell him that you thought your children were self centered, sinful, disobedient, and deceptive? Didn't you tell Dr. Dietz that Andrea Yates saw normal childhood behavior as a major character flaw? It is in testimony, and she acknowledged it, and she acknowledged telling Dr. Dietz about that.
The defense has brought forth Melissa Ferguson. State doctor, she is unbiased. Oh, she is unbiased. Did you see her cry on the stand? They bring her forth, and they put her notes into evidence, and they are there for you to look at. But ladies and gentlemen, for all of the criticism that Deputy Stephens has taken at the defense's hands, he told you something that he heard -- I heard her say, a knife was too bloody. A knife was too bloody.
What did Melissa Ferguson say on cross-examination when I asked her about that? Do you remember her saying, a knife was too bloody? Yes, I do. It is not anywhere in her written notes. Nowhere in her written notes. Isn't that interesting? Deputy Stephens, who has been criticized, who has been called an eavesdropper, was a deputy doing his job. He is a deputy assigned to a jail during a crisis situation. It is part of his responsibility and rounds to check in that room, and he is doing his job. And what's he called? He is called an eavesdropper. But the reality is, Deputy Stephens never looked at Melissa Ferguson's notes. The reality is, Deputy Stephens, just as Dr. Dietz said, remembered something important that had happened.
What else did Melissa Ferguson tell you when she was called on rebuttal? Do you remember hearing a statement that, did you know it was wrong to drown the children? I don't recall that now. On cross- examination, when she initially took the stand, she denied hearing the statement at all. What else did Melissa Ferguson say? Melissa Ferguson did not say Andrea Yates was one of the sickest people she has ever seen, Melissa Ferguson said Andrea Yates was one of the sickest people I have seen with major depression with psychotic features. She qualified it. Not just one of the top six people.
Dr. Wilson talked about what those children went through. None of those children wanted to die. When he says, Andrea Yates was determined, decisive, and deceptive, he was honest with you. She had a plan, and it was to take those children's lives, not take her own life. She didn't want to do that, because, if this was to punish her husband, because of what she -- the circumstances she had been put in, which is a possibility. We do not know for sure her motive. To kill herself, he would -- to kill herself, she would still have the chill -- he would still have the children. She would just be gone.
How do you punish someone for something that you have been wronged? For having to live in a bus. Not being allowed to have freedom? Having children, expecting to bring home a newborn in a bus? I believe it's in evidence, through some doctors' statements, roughly 360 square feet. Bring home an infant and be responsible for home schooling.
She was overwhelmed. Dr. Dietz told you she was overwhelmed back in 1999, and she wanted help. What did she get? She got a little bit of peace, while in the hospital -- got a little bit from her mothers home -- and after a second attempt or threat, she got a house.
After the loss of her father, after she did not get to spend time with her father, after the guilt she felt because her children took her away from the -- the man that she loved so much, the children became a hindrance and she decided that she wanted them out for whatever reason. She was a bad mother. They were disobedient. They were not doing what they were suppose to be doing. They were not perfect. Everything else she had done had been perfect.
Terry Arnold came in here and testified about her store not being opened until February of 2001. That Rusty Yates came in and checked out the store before she came in. She testified about the fact, when she saw those five children, she mentioned, "I have five children. Are you thinking about having more?" Because she could not have more. She said a troubled look came across Ms. Yates' face. Do you remember that. It's important.
She also told you that two to three weeks before this happened, she saw Ms. Yates again. Ms. Yates drove herself to the homeschool store. That she was thinner, that she didn't have the same light in her eyes, but she had all of the children with her, and she was clean.
Debbie Holmes and Dora Yates and Rusty Yates want you to believe now that Andrea Yates couldn't have committed this, except for the fact that she was ill. The reality is, people kill all the time, for reasons unknown to us. You need to look at the evidence from this case.
The fact that each of these children fought and struggled for their lives. That they did not want to die. I want you to think about Noah. The confusion that went through his mind, the fear, the lack of comprehension, as he stood there in a bathroom seeing his baby sister floating in a tub. Not understanding what was going on. Not understanding when he tried to get away, that his mother caught him and forced him into the water.
Like a child, he tried to tell her "I'm sorry." And we know that his head went under the water, and he was able to get it out, according to her statement, at least two times.
If you believe the testimony of Dr. Wilson, his struggle would have lasted possibly up to nine minutes. You know from Dr. Sanchez, that his body was in an accelerated state of rigor. His little legs and little arms, locked into place because he fought with every bit of his ability, but he was not able to overcome her strength, her determination, her deliberateness and her deception. Because he did not know what was going on until he was called into the bathroom. He never had a chance.
Andrea Yates took back control over her life that day. She wasn't disorganized in her thoughts. She wasn't doing this to save the children. She wasn't doing this because she felt what a cruel dilemma for a mother. She wasn't doing this, except for a motivation that only she knows.
Whether or not you like the treatment that she received, to find her not guilty by reason of insanity is to say that there is no longer any self accountability in our society. Because Dr. Starbranch of sat down and told this valedictorian, educated nurse with an exemplary work recom -- work record, "If you have more children, there is a possibility that this will return."
But you know what, she didn't like that advice. She was going to get pregnant, she was going to have as many children as God would allow her and her husband, because that's what she wanted to do. Should these children be the by-product of someone making that choice?
Defense Counsel has said, "Well, you know it -- it's a tragedy, but let's, you know, hold who's responsible responsible." Andrea Yates is responsible. Andrea Yates made that choice. She made the choice to have Mary. She made the choice to fill the tub. She made the choice to kill those five children. She knew it was wrong. She called the police. She told what she did. She knew it was a sin. She told Dr. Dietz that she didn't do it on her first opportunity because she wasn't mentally prepared.
And when she refers to the children in the statement, when doc -- when Officer -- Sergeant Mehl asked her, "What did you do with Noah's body?" Read it, it's chilling. "I left it in there." That's how she refers to Noah, "it". Hold her responsible, she is the one that is accountable. This is a crime of horrific proportions. This is a crime where she made a choice, knowing that it was a sin, that she had to conceal this act because others would stop her from doing it. That it was wrong in the eyes of God, and it was wrong in the eyes of the law. I ask you to follow the law, to do what is right, to look at the evidence. Don't be confused. Do what you know is right.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Prosecutor Kaylynn Williford there, wrapping up her portion of the closing arguments. Now all the attorneys have spoken, let's check in with the attorney who's been watching this with us, in our Washington bureau, Cynthia Alksne. Who you gave a thumbs-down to Joseph Owmby's comments that -- he was the first prosecutor to begin the process this afternoon -- this morning, I should say.
Actually let's go back. Joseph Owmby is back up again.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS) JOSEPH OWMBY, PROSECUTOR: ...well, obviously we didn't, but that's not the only issue that presents itself when you say deterrence, in relation to this law. You also want to deter people who believe, who have formed a belief, who have a delusion of reference, that whatever in their opinion is right is right. And you want to deter them from thinking that they will not be held criminally responsible if they do what they think is right. And that's the deterrence I'm talking about.
You want to deter people from thinking that they can attack the Women's Center because they have some delusion that tells them that they are a danger to society, and therefore they think it's right to attack the Women's Center. They need to go tell somebody. They need to tell a doctor. They need to tell the police.
You remember the conversation I had with Dr. Resnick? There are alternative things to do, that needs to be in the consciousness that you do not sit at home, and do whatever. You don't take children and put them in some bunker somewhere because you think it's right.
We have death and destruction because people take it upon themselves not to follow the law. They take it upon them themselves to do what they think is right and what they think they ought to do. And then we have mentally ill people, mentally depressed people. This is not the first time a mother was diagnosed with postpartum depression.
We have people who cry for help and leave their children in the house and run down the road. We have people that go to their rabbi, their priest, their friend, and tell them, "I need you to help me. I can't be around the children."
Andrea Yates is capable of doing that. But we want to make sure that the next mother, the next person, doesn't think that they can do what they ought to do, because they see on television somewhere, that Andrea Yates was not held criminally responsible, because she did what she ought to do. That's what I mean by deterrence.
One other minor point. Mr. Parnham talked to you about knowingly, and what the definition of "knowingly" is, and I want you to look at the first page of the charge. The person acts intentionally with intent to a -- with respect to a result of her conduct when it is her conscious objective or desire to engage in that conduct.
Now, I don't want you to be confused. These are two different things we're talking about. There is no question that Andrea Yates acted intentionally, and -- do you have the definition of knowingly? A person acts knowingly or with knowledge with respect to a result of her conduct when she is aware that pushing those children into the water will cause their death. There is no question about that. Thank you.
PARNHAM: I am going to object to that argument (OFF-MIKE) of knowing in the insanity defense would certainly object. I'm going to object to that argument as being an improper argument. It's not what the law in the State of Texas is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sustained.
PARNHAM: We'd ask the jury be instructed to disregard his statement, Your Honor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're instructed (OFF-MIKE).
PARNHAM: And we'd asked for a mistrial.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF-MIKE) denied.
OWMBY: That -- that -- what is the law? That you just saw is not the law?
PARNHAM: Your Honor, I' object, once again. Using -- commenting upon the insanity defense. I'd ask the jury be instructed to disregard his statement again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF-MIKE)
PARNHAM: And I ask that he be -- the motion for a new trial be granted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (OFF-MIKE)
OWMBY: These are the instructions you get in the law. Put that up again. These are the instructions you get under the law. Thank you.
You heard from two types of experts. You heard from experts who evaluated Andrea Yates, or talked to her, or did something with her to evaluate the insanity defense or evaluate some aspect of the insanity defense after her arrest. You also heard from what we refer to as treating physicians, like Flack, Thompson, Dr. Starbranch, those people.
I want to talk to you a little bit about -- not about the treating physicians, not about Melissa Ferguson, who records this -- but let me -- but let me say one thing about Melissa Ferguson and these experts, in general.
Melissa Ferguson and Michael Stevenson agree that Andrea Yates, on that 9:00 in the morning after she'd been in that cell all night long, naked, in a fetal position, after she'd been arrested, after she had time to think about killing her children, after those ducks and teddy bears -- the telltale signature of this crime -- had tortured her, said that it was a prophecy, and she could only kill one. She would only have had to kill one. Which expert took that trail all the way back? She had to have all of these delusions past the 20th. That has -- was never -- that never showed up anywhere. And it never showed up again after the 21st. And they didn't tell you she told so, and so there was a prophecy. They didn't tell you she showed Dora Yates there was a prophecy. Not Rusty Yates, not anybody. No nurse talks about a prophecy before the 21st. That is brand-new on the 21st. Brand-new. You think she wasn't more psychotic on the 21st? You think that argument does not hold water?
Brand-new. And if it does, if you give it credence, why didn't she just kill one? If that was one of her delusions before the 21st, why didn't she act in that accord? But then, what we hear is, you can't put logic on anything, anything. You are to ignore the evidence. And decide this case based on what's right for women's mental health. There is no women's mental health. There is no men's mental health. There is the treatment of people that have mental illnesses.
And men who kidnap treatment -- kidnap children and hold them hostage in houses, deserve the same treatment as women who drown children in a bathtub. But Dr. Rosenblatt told you this. One of the things that I talked to him about, was that he recognized that you have to take intervening factors into account, when inferring symptoms. Now, what I was talking with him about was this: you can't say, "All right, the person had a mental disease. Were they were psychotic on the -- on the 20th, or were they psychotic on the 18th?" Because I see they're now psychotic on the 25th. Without considering what happened, if anything, between the 18th and the 25th, were there stressers that could have affected their appearance on the 25th?
He did not appear to take those intervening factors into account. He didn't appear to take them into account because he did not know about them. He just didn't know. He was called in -- the thrust of his testimony is -- he was called in to talk to Andrea Yates on June 25th. And that's what he did. He talked to her, and she told him she knew it was wrong.
Well, was she more psychotic then? Yes. But we're supposed to analyze everything she said June 21st and afterward and assume it was true -- somehow -- true on June 20th, except the fact that she knew it was wrong.
Dr. Puryear and her associate, Dr. Ringholz, they've known each other, I believe -- the next point on here -- Dr. Puryear and her associate, Dr. Ringholz, they've known each other since medical school. Dr. Ringholz acknowledged for you some cautions in the DSM. What he is saying when he acknowledges this caution is this: you can't take a diagnosis, schizophrenia postpartum, even postpartum psychosis, which is not a standard diagnosis -- but anyway -- you can't take that and say "because I'm diagnosing this person, they are impaired at this or that level."
In fact their psychosis may be nothing more than believing there are cameras in the house and possibly thinking that cartoon characters are talking to them personally on the television. That may be the extent of their psychosis. And he said -- the DSM cautions you, and that's why it cautions you about that. Because you say a person is psychotic, does not mean that they are running around looking for somebody to hurt.
It means they exhibit some symptom that is qualified as psychotic, like believing cameras are in your house, unless her NASA engineered husband actually had cameras in the house. But let's assume that there were no cameras in the house. That is a psychotic symptom. And that's the only evidence -- that's the only -- as the defense put it, the only empirical evidence we have that she was psychotic.
And he acknowledges something else that you need to realize. And I think you do realize this. That the DSM cautions against over reliance on its diagnostic criteria in a forensic setting. Well, what does that mean? You cannot lay these diagnosis down on the table and say, "See, there's no dispute that she was mentally ill. See, they all agree, on these DSM diagnoses, therefore, that answers the question." And that's what the defense has asked you to do. Is to take these diagnosis, know that she is mentally ill, and don't hold her criminally responsible.
Dr. Puryear made a diagnosis, a reasonable guess, on -- some time before, I think it was June 22nd, 2001, and it was printed in the "Houston Chronicle." That was her diagnosis, postpartum depression. Now, they ask you, the defense that is, ask you to look at the video, that now has words on it. The one where Andrea Yates is -- and you will hear her, if you choose to look at it -- speaking to Noah about the butterflies, and you will hear a few words of hers in the hospital as she sits in the beds smiling at the birth of her baby, Mary.
This is a woman Dr. Puryear said was suffering from postpartum depression psychosis at that time. This is what she said. Debbie Holmes told me he was disheveled and showing these symptoms while she was pregnant. So you do look at it, and you look at it to see what Dr. Puryear is trying to sell you.
Dr. Puryear in the -- makes a -- makes a non-DSM diagnosis. Postpartum psychosis, in the face of conflicting evidence, which I've just discussed with you. In the face of conflicted evidence, she stands by what she said in the paper. And she has to, this is a woman that started the Women's Center at Baylor and made them give her a title. Sure she values her reputation. She has, in the paper, already committed to a diagnosis.
She claims that the defendant exhibited psychotic behavior in spite of the 9-1-1 call, which we listened to a portion of, while she was on the stand. Organized behavior at the scene, which she ignores. Ordered by -- thought processes with Stumpo and Mehl, as exhibited by that confession, which she listened to.
That's -- that is psychotic, that confession. That's thought- blocking, when she -- they ask her why, and she keeps her motives to herself, but it's thought-blocking. What Dr. Deitz explained to you is thought-blocking, means that your thoughts are blocked and then you go off subject. When she's brought back with another question, she answers that question. She's on subject. She's thinking. She's thinking what she wants to tell him about her motive.
Doctors Ringholz and Puryear ignore all evidence, and you'll remember Dr. Ringholz especially, nothing indicated that she knew it was wrong at the time, not one single piece of evidence. Dr. Puryear refuses to accept peer review. She refuses -- she only agrees, and maybe I phrased the question confusingly. She has no reason to agree or to look at what anybody else says. She agrees with who agrees with her. She will not rethink her conclusions.
Now, Dr. Puryear does find areas to criticize Dr. Dietz's report, after he is -- she is sure he has left the building.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Order in the court, please.
OWMBY: Dr. Resnick testified. First thing, he finds the fact that the defendant knew her actions were legally wrong at the time. Finds it as a fact. He agrees with Dr. Dietz. He uses defendant's motive for the basis of his conclusion. She did what she ought to do. She did what, in her opinion, was right. He fits the defendant into his altruistic category, on the "Nightline" program on June 21st 2001. Here is a -- on national television. She is an altruistic killer.
Now, they tell you Dr. Dietz has to find something one way or the other. What's this guy got to do? Doesn't he have to come down here? He has been on "Nightline" and said this. Is he going to find something different when he comes down here and go back on "Nightline" and say, "I was wrong"? What about his integrity? He's locked in from national television. That's all he could do.
He relies on parts of Dr. Ferguson's statements but not others, and I talked to you a little bit about this. He says she could have killed one child to justify all. Relies on parts of it, but he ignores that in his analysis. He doesn't take the prophecy into his analysis. He just relies on the motive that fits into his altruistic category. He doesn't include in his valuation that the only empirical evidence of psychotic symptoms he sees prior to June 21st, is the belief that there may be cameras in the house.
He frames this in the form of a "cruel dilemma." But he knows, he knows a sane and loving mother can kill her children. He worked with one. And I didn't tell you that, he told you that. He knows you can be sane and kill. His conclusion? She did what she thought was best. And therefore, she doesn't know right from wrong.
So, if I'm a bank robber, and I think it would be best for me to have the $40,000 that that teller has, because all she's doing is keeping it in that drawer, then perhaps I'm justified. Because I can use that $40,000 better than that bank teller just sitting there watching it. So my sense of right and wrong is distorted. And if I wasn't so psychotic to have believed that my comfort is better than whoever owns that $40,000, if I didn't have this delusion of reference that I would be better off with that $40,000 in my pocket, my sense of right and wrong must be distorted. So I cannot know the difference between right and wrong. That is ridiculous. That's just ridiculous. To go from "I did what I thought was best" to "I am -- I don't know right from wrong."
But that's the conclusion he reaches. And then Dr. Osterman told you, basically what I said. That that's ridiculous. That's not the law in any jurisdiction. She didn't come here to give you an opinion on sanity. She came here to say that the defendant told her she thought it was right, to drown her children. But that's not the law. You asked me a question, I answered that question. But that's not the law. That's not the law because it's ridiculous. Thank you. They say I yell. And I know you don't believe that. But I'm sorry to -- too, because I get excited, and I start yelling. Because -- I know how important these issues are. And sometimes I'm having arguments with myself, I guess. I'm attending to internal stimuli, yelling at myself. But I apologize if I -- if I have yelled at you. It's not you that I'm yelling at. I am raging against these ideas, because I want you to look at the evidence.
And this is not what the doctors are telling you. First thing, could you go to Dr. Dietz's findings. Just go all the way to his findings. His opinions, I'm sorry, his opinion, 41 and 42.
At the time of the drowning of each child, Andrea Yates knew it was wrong. That is what Dr. Dietz told you, and he explained why. And he explained everything that he went through to get there. The pre-homicide phase, the homicide phase, post-homicide phase. He answered the questions of the defense, and he defended his conclusion. Now, he also told you this, that she may have believed that it was best for the children and that may have been her motive. He told you that her actions were wrong in the eyes of society, that her actions were wrong in the eyes of God. It was a sin. May have believed -- may have believed, that it was in the best interest of the children.
That is what Dr. Dietz saw to a reasonable medical certainty. That's what he does to a reasonable medical certainty. This is what juries do, they look at evidence.
Now I want you to look at the evidence in this case. Andrea Yates wanted to be the perfect mother, just like you heard she wanted to be the perfect daughter, and she was driven by this throughout her life. She met Rusty Yates, and in a move that was kind of uncharacteristic for her, she makes an effort to introduce herself to him. And they eventually marry, and they live in what appears to be from the descriptions happily for three years without children. Then they marry, he buys a house, and they marry, and he moves her into his house, and she has his child, Noah.
Everything still seems to be reasonably fine, until Russell Yates introduces these concepts of religion from Michael Warnig (ph). They sold her possessions, stored his tools in storage and moved into a RV, came about because of the trip, the employment opportunity, but that's what they end up, and they up living in a bus, a converted bus for a home. Andrea Yates tells you -- I can't remember what the evidence was as she characterized that time in there, but I believe somewhere there she said she believed she was content. There was a laundromat close by. She only had to walk whatever feet to the laundromat with those four children, living in that bus, until one day, it became overwhelming, the feeling of being trapped.
And remember the what Dr. Ringholz said, that in his testing, in his rocharts (ph) and his TAT tests, he found that she had this view that the women were trapped and the men would leave. And she tells Rusty Yates to help her, and she does not get help until she finds the time to rest. That's what she said, she wanted to rest. She comes back home to her mother's house, but she they cannot live there forever, she knows that's just temporary, as it should be. Nobody is blaming anybody at her mothers house, but you cannot live at your mother's house with four children forever. They have to go back to the bus, and she gets a knife and goes in that bathroom and ends up back in the hospital until a house is bought, then they move into the house. She is doing fine,
Elaine Wilcott -- she's doing well enough. Elaine Wilcott tells you that in her counseling, she discusses -- some of this marital discord kind of comes out, that Rusty is critical and says hurtful things to her about the home schooling, about how it's getting done.
Now at this point, the perfect mother has to think if she is not perfect, he will leave, because that's the way she views this relationship, that's what she told Elaine Wilcott, he will leave. She is not perfect. She has Mary, and she looks healthy, she looks alive, and she looks joyful in that video, and then she goes home and starts home-schooling the next day, after she get out of the hospital, and she has Russell Yates, and she's taking care of his children, and it is becoming the same, and perhaps she starts falling into depression then, but more likely, the stresser of her father drives her deeper into depression.
Because of her children, the demands of home schooling her children while her father is dying, she can't do what she thinks she should do for her father, whether she is right, or not, what's driving her is that she should be doing for her father, but she has to home school, right up to the time he dies.
Russell Yates and she are agree that she should be home schooling, according to Russell Yates. She begins to get very depressed and goes into Devereaux (ph), and at times, she says these thoughts came to her during that month. These thoughts came to her, she watches "Law & Order" regularly. She sees this program. There is a way out. She tells that to Dr. Dietz, a way out. There is an altruistic motive. If I find the way out, what will happen to the children? They will be fine. The children won't have to worry about me being less than perfect. The children won't not have to worry about me saving them or keeping them on the righteous path. They will be in heaven, and I can find my way out.
But she doesn't want to kill those children, because she told you, they've told you, and they're right, she's a loving mother. On the one hand, she is a loving mother, and on the other hand, the only time Andrea Yates gets attention is when she is -- attention in her marriage -- is when she is in a hospital, when she is visited and attended to, and the focus from Russell Yates is on her, is when she is in the hospital and she is not carrying for the children.
She decided to kill those children, and she told him to come home, because it's time to be punished. Your children are dead and gone, Dr. Resnick said that. Your children are dead and gone, that will stab your heart. She calls him and the police. And she leaves those children for him to see. That is what the evidence is telling you. And this is why she must be held criminally responsible, because she knew from right from wrong at the time. She knew it was wrong, because she takes not just her children, they are not her possessions; they belong to us, and this will stab your heart, every time you see a child laugh, it will stab your heart, because you will remember this trial. And you will wonder what the mother is doing with that child. It will stab your heart.
She deprived us of what we possess in each other. Noah won't be an entomologist because of her motives. John won't be that short, stocky guy, that's shorter than Noah, but weighs almost as much, that we associated with determination, and we called fire plugs. Paul won't smile for us. You won't be able to tell Luke he will be a doctor like his namesake, a physician. And Mary Deborah will never know she was named after her mother's best friend. Because she had to find a way out, because she was trapped. And even though she knew it was wrong, she also knew the children will be in a better place, and they are, but that's not the issue here.
The issue here is she criminally responsible? And the evidence is that she is. I am asking you to vote in accordance with the law and the evidence, and find her guilty as charged, because that's what she is.
JUDGE BELINDA HILL: Ladies and gentlemen, before you receive the charge, given the hour, I'm going to go ahead and recess for lunch at this time. You will not begin deliberations until you have returned from lunch and all of you are back in the jury room. Once again, I will continue to give you your admonitions, you are not to discuss this case among yourself or permit anyone to discuss it with you. If anyone attempts to do so, please notify the bailiff and he will notify the court.
Now that you've been charged, it becomes important that you remain together as you travel to and from lunch. Once you return from lunch, I will have the charge delivered to you, and only then will you begin deliberations.
All rise for the jury, please.
HARRIS: Judge Belinda Hill now sending the jury out, and they are taking a break before they will actually come back and begin their deliberations.
We have been listening to the closing arguments being presented by the prosecution and the defense in the Andrea Yates trial, and it has been a rather powerful set of words that we have been hearing for the last couple of hours now in this Houston, Texas courtroom.
Let's bring in our analyst, Cynthia Alksne, who's is Washington, who has been listening. We have been checking back with her from time to time. Before we get to going back over who you think may have did not the best here, I want to ask you about that the set of objections we heard raised about Wendell Odom, the defense attorney in this case, and from what I could tell, it sounded as though the judge actually sustained one of those objections. Can you tell us what was that was all about?
ALSKNE: Yes, what happened was when Mr. Owmby stood up, it was the murder definition as opposed to the insanity defense, and so the defense attorney properly stood up and demanded that his argument be stricken, and the judge did strike it. Very unusual for something like that. A legal argument to be stricken, and it was not good for Mr. Owmby's credibility.
HARRIS: But Mr. Odom also asked for a mistrial?
ALKSNE: Well, he has to do that in order to protect appeal rights. That's sort of a form thing he has to do. That isn't as striking to me as the fact that a judge struck a portion of Mr. Owmby's arguments.
You hear it a lot, you hear striking of arguments, when it has to do with a factual -- you know, this witness, said X, Y, and Z, and the defense attorney stands up and says no, he didn't, the witness said ABC. That's different from actually a legal definition that happens in the course of a argument.
HARRIS: You were critical the first time that we saw the prosecutor Owmby, just when he began the whole process of the first round. What do you think of the way he finished up this afternoon?
ALKSNE: Well, he finished up better. I thought that the first round was a wasted opportunity for him to talk to the jury. I thought he finished up better, but in my mind, the strongest prosecutor was the woman. She had a very solid simple theme of deception, and went through every tiny, simple fact and wove together all of the witnesses in an effective way that showed that Andrea Yates had planned this murder, that she -- even during the course of the murders, was deceiving the other children by way she was covering them up, by the way she locked the doors, and those types of things. I thought she was very effective.
HARRIS: Yes, I wanted to ask you about that as well, because, as a matter of fact, do we have Robert Gordon still with us? Robert Gordon is also joining us. He is a trial psychologist and an attorney himself, He's also been listening. Let me ask you the question that Cynthia brings up here, about the way that Kaylynn Williford walked through every single murder in this particular case. What we saw happen with the defense attorneys, I believe it was Wendell Odom, when he made his really emotional presentation. He walked through every single witness.
It seems to me, the stacking of those two up side-by-side, I don't know, there was something of an emotional push and pull going on there. What do you make of that?
ROBERT GORDON, PSYCHOLOGIST: The defense wanted to painstakingly, and fastidiously go through each element of evidence in order to build to a crescendo that this lady is mentally ill, and the prosecution by contrast wanted to emotionally say, hey, look, let's be reasonable, this woman has free choice, she has free will, there is determination in our society. But after all, she chose to do this, and she had enough sufficient time, the concept to take three minutes to drown a child, and this was deeply, deeply moving.
HARRIS: And, Robert, you are the psychologist, let me ask you this, it seemed to me at some point that perhaps the prosecution was taking a risk in maybe going over too much these definitions of mental illness and the different psychological terms there toward the end. Do you think that perhaps the jury's may have glazed over that, or do you think it was really hitting home with them?
GORDON: I think it probably wasn't necessary, because as the prosecution went through the beast notion, the irresistible impulse, the Durham decision, and McNaughton decision and the model decisions of the American Bar Association, it tended to confuse rather than clarify.
What was most compelling was the notion that a person has free will, and then remember also the judge's instructions adds to the excitement of what the jurors have to decide, because Judge Hill says you have to presume she is innocent, you cannot take the fact she did not testify as evidence of culpability. And so the jurors are going to actually approach moment of truth with great apprehension and excitement.
HARRIS: Yes, we can only imagine what they are going through right now on that particular point there.
But, Cynthia, let's you wrap this up here.
Sorry go ahead.
ALKSNE: Here's the problem from a strategy points of view in overlooking, analyzing the trial, and that is today, when the female prosecutor summarized the evidence, it is the first time in 3 1/2 weeks that the jury has had a coherent concept of what is the prosecution's theme, and that's too late. As analyzing the trial, that is just too late. The defense here has really taken control of the trial and become the truth givers about her illness, and I am not sure this fine closing argument that the woman gave has any chance of catching up.
HARRIS: Yes. Bob, final word, if you will, Dr. Gordon, we have to move on.
We are going to move on we have quite a bit more to get to this afternoon. We will be talking more about this case here on CNN, so please stay with us.
Robert Gordon and Cynthia Alksne, thank you very much. We appreciate time and your insights this morning and this afternoon. It's been quite a way to finish the morning and begin the afternoon here on CNN.
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