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Interview with Russell Yates

Aired March 18, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Family man's worst nightmare. His wife is locked up for life. His five children are dead by her hand, his in- laws blame him. An intense hour including your calls is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Russell Yates is our special guest for the hour tonight. He's the husband of convicted murder Andrea Yates, the father of the five children that she drowned. Earlier today in Houston she was formally sentenced to life in prison for the murder of three of those five children. She'll be eligible for parole in 40 years. She's still in the Harris County Jail, right?


KING: Do we know, Rusty, where she'll be incarcerated?

YATES: I believe her attorneys made some recommendations today. Some of the prisons in Texas have better, you know, psychiatric treatment than others. I believe he made a recommendation that Andrea be allowed to stay in Harris County until the appeals process is resolved, and once that's resolved, he made a recommendation that she go to a specific prison that has better treatment.

KING: Did the judge give any indication whether he'd pay attention to that.

YATES: It's a woman.

KING: And she did not?


KING: When was the last time you spoke with Andrea?

YATES: Friday. I see her every Tuesday and Friday.

KING: That was after knowing she'd serve life in prison?


KING: How was her mood?

YATES: I got the impression she was a bit relieved to have a verdict you know, and have a sentence. I think that she worried a lot about the possibility of facing the death penalty and in some sense it's just something she doesn't have to worry about now. She knows what the future holds for her.

KING: How is she dealing with the double combination of knowing something is terribly wrong with her and guilt?

Well, that's a good question. Andrea kind of grew up in an environment where works were more important than intentions or motives or heart. And I think as such, she has a very hard time forgiving herself for what happened because it did happen by her hands.

I've tried encourage her, you know, to separate herself from what happened and realize that she never would have done this had she not been psychotic. Her heart was good and her mind was bad, and to me, I mean, as outrageous as it sounds, I don't think she needs forgiveness. She needs compassion.

KING: A lot of people who have looked at you right from the start of this have reacted to how amazing you have been through this to be that supportive. Didn't you have any anger toward her?

YATES: No. You know, the only -- the only thing I have a tough time getting past is the fact that she never said that anything -- she never gave any indication that she had any intention of harming the children. She never told me she had any thoughts of harming the children in 1999.

KING: You knew she had mental problems...

YATES: Right.

KING: But you never thought she'd be violent?

YATES: It was completely unimaginable. I think that's something people really don't understand about someone who is psychotic is that you can look at them and if they are quiet, you know they appear normal. You know, an example would be, say, you are walking downtown and see a guy on the street corner and you assume he's sane until he starts singing some crazy song and then you are like well, that guy is insane. You don't know he's insane until he speaks up.

That's how it was with Andrea. She seemed to struggle to remain as functional as she could, but she was very quiet. And we had absolutely no idea that she was a danger to anyone. And much less, you know, just what happened. It's just -- like I said, unimaginable.

KING: We are going to go back over that, but first, on some recent things. Were you shocked that they found her guilty of the crime?

YATES: Most definitely, yes. And I probably was not even thinking that they would find her not guilty, but when the -- you know, when the judge read the verdict, I heard her read it, and I honestly thought she just skipped right over word not. I was like, are you sure you didn't miss the word not? I honestly couldn't believe it. I was shocked and still am to a degree although I understand it better now that I've heard the jurors speak about their thinking on it.

KING: Did you feel better when they came back quickly or were you fearful when they came back quickly?

YATES: I was more optimistic. I thought that a quick verdict was better. And I really didn't think that all 12 -- and one reason was that there is so much evidence. That, you know, they heard testimony, but there was a lot of evidence that they had, you know, a lot of exhibits that they had access to that I don't think they looked at.

KING: Were you surprised that the prosecutors were not forceful in seeking the death penalty?

YATES: No. I kind of thought that they sought the death penalty because they could, not because they had any real reason.

KING: You don't think they expected her to get it, nor did they fight for her to get it?

YATES: It gives them an advantage. Their interest was getting a conviction and it gives them an advantage in trial. Because in Texas, in order to qualify for a jury in which the state is seeking the death penalty, every juror has to believe in the death penalty. That is that everyone who is opposed to the death penalty is automatically excluded from being a juror on a trial in which the state is seeking the death penalty.

KING: Do you think she was found guilty because it was sort of like eye for eye? That somebody had to pay for this horrible act?

YATES: I think that's a big part of it. I think that the mentality in the county and in the state, not just among the, you know, government officials there, but among the citizens as well, is that someone got hurt, so someone's got to pay, and I don't think the jury was ever able to get past the fact that she drowned the children. It's, you know, that simple.

KING: In other words, someone's got to pay for this. One juror identified as Roy said a lot of people want you to have sympathy for her and feel sorry. That's OK, but you can never forget the children. Apparently the jury couldn't forget the children. And a lot of people wonder how you are able to separate the two things?

YATES: Well, as far as the children, I mean, they were just absolutely the most beautiful children. And that's another way to make it, you know, another thing that makes it unimaginable for us is because we knew how much Andrea loved the children.

You know, it's no coincidence that everyone in our family, on both sides of the family, all the victims in this case, all support Andrea and wanted her to be found not guilty by reason of insanity because we know her. She's got more integrity than just -- she's wonderful. You know, kind, gentle, caring loving person. And what happened can only be explained by virtue of the fact that she was insane. She was psychotic. She believed she was doing the right thing the at the time.

KING: And again, you had no thought she would ever be violent?

YATES: Absolutely not.

KING: We are going to take a break and come back with Rusty Yates who works as an engineer for NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Houston. And we will be taking your calls later. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... calls number 880205. The state of Texas versus Andrea Pea (ph) Yates. We the jury find the defendant, Andrea Pea Yates, guilty of capital murder as charged in the indictment, signed by the foreperson.



KING: We're back with Rusty Yates. In a television interview, I believe on "Good Morning America," Andrea's brother, Brian Kennedy, said that you, Rusty, were an unemotional husband inattentive to Andrea's needs. Also said he almost begged in an effort to try to educate you on the need to help Andrea and lighten her load.

In that same interview, Andrea's mother said that Rusty told her after the birth of their fourth child he never changed a diaper. Mrs. Kennedy said I think that any man or woman whose spouse was that severely down, confused, that sick, would do whatever it would take necessary to help them. Your chance to respond?

YATES: I guess I could do that individually or, you know...

KING: Any way you want. First what the brother said.

YATES: As far as being attentive to Andrea, you know, what Andrea needed once she became sick, and we could talk about two phases, you know, normally, our regular life, when Andrea wasn't sick we had a pretty, you know -- she had things she did, I had things I did and we'd help each other when we didn't have time.

Once you have, for those of you who have large families, it's like once you -- when you have one it's not too bad. Two, most of your time is gone. Three, all your time is gone. After that it doesn't matter because all your time is gone -- all my time and her time. I helped out tremendously at home. They didn't see it because they weren't at home with us.

KING: How about calling you unemotional?

YATES: I'm not very emotional.

KING: That's your nature. Were you surprised her brother said that?

YATES: No. They are very emotional people. It doesn't surprise me.

KING: Did you get along with them during the marriage?

YATES: Oh, yes, pretty well.

KING: How about the...

YATES: The diaper thing is not true. Mrs. Kennedy should know that because she and I shared, you know, Andrea went back to work for two weeks after she had Noah and I was with him half days and she was with him half days. I changed his diaper during that time for sure. So at least she should know what she said there is not true.

KING: Brian also said he thinks the state of Texas should look into bringing some kind of case against you. Prosecutors suggested that Andrea was motivated by the desire break free of the burdens of family (UNINTELLIGIBLE) . What do you make of that?

YATES: I don't think they understand her illness. I think they probably would have found with other jurors. If they were -- if that was a case not involving Andrea. Andrea has a biochemical brain disease.

In 1999, Andrea went from being, you know, completely catatonic, not getting out of bed, not eating, not taking care of herself, nothing. She got one shot of Haldol and Adavan and she was up on her feet, taking showers, shaving her legs, getting food, talking. Just as open as I'd ever seen her. And she recovered. And this is a -- it's a post-partum depression.

KING: Do you think the family may be reacting out of their own pain?

YATES: yes.

KING: Trying to find some...

YATES: You're probably right. It's hard on everybody. They don't see it in me. But it's impossible for me. I've lost everything. I mean, one day, you know, one hour, my children are gone. My wife is gone. It was like I felt like I had been robbed. They act as though, oh, I should have seen this coming.

My God, we went -- I couldn't see this. We went to a doctor two days before this happened. I mean, we went -- the children passed away on June 20. We went to a doctor on June 18. He's a trained professional who is supposed to be able to recognize these kinds of things. I'm not. I'm just a guy. So...

KING: What was it like when you got that phone call?

YATES: It was just horrible. I mean I'll never forget it.

KING: Did you know something was wrong just by...

YATES: I was scared to death because of her tone. Her tone was so -- that's something people don't realize. Andrea didn't say 10 words a day. I mean and then all of a sudden she's speaking in these sentences to me, you need to come home. You need to come home. It was weird. They -- I didn't actually ever hear the police interview, you know, but I did hear the 911 tape.

She said more on the 911 tape -- called and said the past week before that she just did not talk at all. And I said before, if you see somebody that is quiet, you just see them the same way you always see them.

KING: You never thought of hospitalization?

YATES: That's what I wanted. In fact, you know, this wasn't out of any concern that Andrea would, you know, was any danger, but it was just a concern for her on June 18th, the night we took Andrea to see the doctor, I took her to get something to eat afterwards and she wouldn't eat anything.

I was very concerned. She, you know, that had been something that happened in the last couple of days before that. And I said -- she was eating sporadically, it was not quite normal. I called my mom and said, mom, I think Andrea needs to be in the hospital. Then we said, well, we couldn't do it because we'd just seen the doctor and it's the doctor who decides whether she's -- she needs to go to the hospital. He is the one that signs the admission form. And if he didn't think she needed to go to the hospital then we're just going to have to make do at home.

KING: When you got home, were the police there already?

YATES: Yes. Uh-huh. Yes, police and one media van.

KING: Media van, too. Did you know from her phone call she had killed the children? Did she tell you that on the phone?

YATES: No. The first phone call she said, you need to come home. I said, what's wrong? She said you need to come home. And she was very serious in her tone. I hung up and ran down the building at my work place and then called my mom and asked her if she was the at home. She said no, she was just leaving to go, and then I called back home and Andrea picked up and I said, you know, what's wrong?

And she said something like it's time, or something like that, which didn't make any sense to me, still doesn't. Then she said, is anyone hurt. And she said yes, and she said the children. And I said, which ones? She said all of them.

And I was just -- I remember walking out of my building, you know, down to my car, and in a frantic, just running to my car and for the longest time after that, every time I would go to my car I would have like a flashback to that moment when she called.

KING: How long is the drive home? YATES: It's short. 3 1/2 miles. Maybe 10 minutes.

KING: You get to the house and what do you see?

YATES: Police cars. Media van. Went inside. I tried to go inside the house, and the policeman said I can't let you do that. So I had to stay outside. I repeated over and over again how could you do this? I don't understand? How could you do this? I don't understand.

KING: Did you see her there?

YATES: I went around back and looked through our French doors and saw her sitting on the couch.

KING: Did you ever see the children?

YATES: No. I haven't seen any of the pictures and I don't want to. That should be the thing just reserved for forensic scientists or something, or people who study filicide (ph). I was offended that they -- you wouldn't believe -- they went through every bruise. Every single bruise on every single child.

I mean, the defense stipulated to the fact that Andrea drowned the children. But they had to go through every bruise on every child. It's like they paraded the children's bodies around the courtroom for three weeks. It's offensive. I mean, they say they do this for the children. But all they've done really is dishonored the memory of my children. They -- my children would not want Andrea in prison. They'd want her in a hospital.

KING: Are they all buried together?

YATES: Yes. yes.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Rusty Yates. We'll be including your phone calls. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Rusty Yates. We'll start to include your phone calls amidst other questions as well. To Huntsville, Alabama. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry and hello, Mr. Yates. We want you to know we support you completely and appreciate your strength. I had a severe post-partum and my personality changed greatly. I don't think anyone can fully realize the depth of mental illness until they are touched by it. I do hope you'll continue to be an advocate for mental health especially post-partum.

What a testimony it is for you to stand by your wife at this time. It's just amazing. My question is this -- will you continue to support her and stand by her for the next 40 years?

YATES: I'll definitely continue to support her. There's no question about that. You know, as far as where we go with our relationship, that's kind of hard to say. It's, you know, you know, two reasons that you get married are companionship and children. And...

KING: You have neither.

YATES: We'll have neither. So...

KING: Are you a devout person? Are you a strong believer?

YATES: Oh, yes.

KING: As is Andrea, right?


KING: She was home-teaching, too?

YATES: Home-schooling the children? Yes. We -- that's actually kind of been misreported through the years. We didn't start home schooling until we moved into the house. We never homeschooled in the bus. Andrea would read books to them and stuff, but we never homeschooled in the bus that we lived in before we moved into the house.

When Andrea got sick she didn't have to home-school. People made it sound like she was just -- she had all the responsibility she always had all during the time she was sick in 2001. That's absolutely not true. Mom and I were home all the time except an hour here or there.

KING: You are a victim in this crime. Yes, your wife did it, but you are a victim. How did the state treat you? How did the prosecuon treat you?

YATES: Like dirt.

KING: Like dirt?

YATES: It's true. They contacted me two days after this happened and said they wanted to come see the house. So they came out and they walked through my house. Asked me a few questions. While they were there, the purpose of their visit was not, at least supposed to be to ask me questions. It was just to see the house. And they asked me questions about things like, building bunk beds and who knows what.

But that's the last I heard of them. They just went off and it's like they -- they feel like they know what they are doing and they never contacted me. They never called me. Nothing. No one in our family. And just proceeded to...

KING: To this day?

YATES: Well, yes. The only other time I got a call from them was in November. They waited four months to do a psychiatric evaluation of Andrea after she had been on right medicine, you know the very medicine I asked them to put her on in March. She was on the right medicine. She was on road to, you know, she was at least, you know, her psychosis had mostly been broken by that time.

They wanted me to do an interview with this, Park Dietze, you know, the man who testifies for the state.

KING: Psychiatrist who testifies for the state.

YATES: And by that time, they showed me that they weren't interested in justice. They weren't interested in determining, you know, Andrea's mental state on that day. They just hired a man to testify she was sane. That's the way I saw it anyway.

KING: Do you have any grief toward the health insurance providers? Doctors?

YATES: Absolutely. I mean...

KING: Going to sue?

YATES: Probably. I mean, I haven't made any arrangements for that yet. But...

KING: Do you feel that they didn't provide the coverage they should have provided?

YATES: It was just atrocious, what they did. I mean I went back through Andrea's medical history and wrote it up for her attorney from 1999 and 2001. There are an amazing number of parallels between what happened in 1999 and 2001 -- very, very similar. The one striking difference is the level of care Andrea received from Dr. Starbranch compared to the level of care she received from Doctor Saeed in 2001. It's just night and day.

I didn't recognize it going through. I am just following Doctor's orders...

KING: Who was the better?

YATES: Dr. Starbranch was better by a mile. She took the illness seriously and treated it well, and fought to leave Andrea in the hospital?

KING: Why didn't you go back to her?

YATES: We didn't go back to her because just practically she was too far away. I didn't have any help with the children. I had to watch the kids while Andrea was in the hospital.

KING: Aren't you insured through NASA?


KING: Isn't that pretty good insurance? YATES: You'd think so. You know, when you look at is a subscriber it says, you know, that Andrea is entitled to unlimited in- patient days. Implicit in that is that they'll leave her in the hospital until she's well. But I will tell you, both times she released from the hospital she was the sickest patient in the hospital both times. I was shocked both times they let her go. But again, what do you do? I'm like, well, they let her go. I guess we'll have to make do.

KING: Do you think people, when they talk about you emotionally, they want you to be crying or falling all over yourself. Do you think people expect, say to themselves, that's what I'd be doing, so I want him to do it?

YATES: I think that's what they expect. I did that the first week. I cried and cried and cried. I was balling in my yard that day. But it's like, I mean, with the children, I know they are safe. I know I'll see them again. I know that I did everything I could for them. I know I was on outstanding terms with all of them. They are all my friends.

KING: You do believe you'll be with them again?

YATES: Most definitely.

KING: Alisa Viejo, California, hello?

CALLER: Hello, Rusty.

YATES: Hello.

CALLER: Rusty, I'm interested in knowing how has the public's reaction to this case affected your opinion about people in general? And also, Rusty I'd like to also commend you for the way you've stood by Andrea. Thank you.

YATES: That's a very, very good question. One observation I've had is that when people go through a loss, it seems to me they either become more compassionate or more bitter. And I am absolutely astounded by the number of, you know, angry, bitter people that are out there that just lash out, and it's like, I'm almost like, what are you after?

I don't even understand it. I mean, it's not like personally attacking anyone is going to cure their anger and bitterness. So that's one observation I've had. I think that a lot of people don't make any real attempt to understand why things happen. I think in this case, it's not a common event and it's not a common illness. But it is a well known illness, well-documented illness, and I think that people will tend to try -- when they see a tragedy like this occur, they'll try to explain it in terms of things they understand.

They understand things like, you know, spousal abuse or being overwhelmed at home or all these things. But they don't understand the chemical nature of Andrea's illness. And so I think what I would like to see people do is make an effort to understand. You know, when something happens, spend the time to understand why it happened, and then, you know, go from there.

KING: We, still, as a society, don't equate this with having cancer.

YATES: Exactly.

KING: Cancer, physically, we understand. Mental we don't.

YATES: It's kind of back to, in some sense, like Salem. That's the way I feel. If a woman had an epileptic fit they'd say she had a demon and burn her. Here Andrea has a post-partum psychosis and drowns her children, and they are like, burn her. It's not too different to me.

KING: Be right back with more of Russell Yates. Don't go away.


JOSEPH OWMBY, ANDREA YATES' ATTORNEY: We took no pleasure in prosecuting Mrs. Yates and take no joy in this result or any result that may have occurred. In a perfect world, the Yates' children would be alive and thriving in the midst of a loving family. But in this imperfect world, the best we could do was to see that justice was done for them as victims of a horrendous crime. Justice was done today.



KING: We're back with Rusty Yates on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. You still live in the same house?

YATES: I'm still there. Yes.

KING: Really? Isn't that hard?

YATES: Yes, that's one of the -- like I said, I went through their things and tried to get rid of the --

KING: Do you walk through their rooms?

YATES: It's hard. But they have these stress tests that you take at that, you know, you get so many points for events and you are supposed to have under so many points. I think you are supposed to have under 150. I had over 700 and Andrea had over 800. And that's too many. And in one life stressor is moving. So --

KING: So why do you stay in the scene of the crime?

YATES: Well, it's my house. I mean, I like the house. I, you know, I have taken most of the reminders of the children out of the house. I still have the family pictures. Again, just seeing the children is bittersweet. I love those kids.

KING: Outdoor (ph), Michigan, hello? CALLER: Good evening, Larry. And Mr. Yates. Rusty, I know how important your faith and Andrea's has been in God. And my question is this -- has Andrea sought forgiveness, I guess both from God and yourself?

YATES: Yes. You know, I -- I talked a little about that earlier. You know, Andrea has always been very hard on herself. And this is just such a -- just more than anyone should ever have to bear. I mean, you know, people say that to me. They say, you know, I can't imagine what you're going through.

And I wrote a letter to Andrea and I said the same thing to her. What she's going through is worse than what I've gone through. Because she loved the kids, every bit as much as I did, but she has memories of having drowning them. And --

KING: Her's was more than post-partum, though, wasn't it? I mean, a lot of women have post-partum and they don't kill their children. I mean, they do some whacko things. They go and barricade themselves in rooms. Marie Osmond wrote a book about that. And you say you were reading that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?


YATES: They can latch on to anything. And that's something, you know, people try to make some rational sense out of what happened, and --

KING: You can't.

YATES: You can't. But you can look at some of the factors like she's always been concerned about the children. But, you know, just like any mother is concerned about children. She's concerned about how well they behave and how well they develop and, but when she became psychotic it all of a sudden became, like the children are headed for hell. It's like a distortion of reality.

KING: I must save them.

YATES: Yes, or like maybe she's being concerned about her own salvation or her own standing before God or -- and then all of a sudden it becomes the devil's in me, and he has to be killed. That's -- there's a great leap between, you know, the normal day to day concerns that people have to where someone becomes psychotic and all of a sudden those things are like they become part of their reality. The reality that they live in. It's not just a concern. It's like that's real. And they act upon it.

KING: Do you feel bitter toward her family striking out at you? Do you feel bitterness back? Anger?

YATES: I mean, I don't like it. I don't think it's productive or fair.

KING: Athens, Georgia, hello. CALLER: Hi. I need to ask you a question, Mr. Yates. And it puzzles me. With all respect, if this was to happen to me, my husband was to have done this, even though I know he would have mental problems, I would just -- I just don't know. I would be so angry. I would be so angry. I just -- to take my babies from me.

I don't know how you are dealing with your anger? I haven't seen the anger. And it just hurts that I haven't -- I mean, I can't understand it.

KING: This is what a lot of the general public was saying.

YATES: There's a, you know -- first, like I said before, I know how much Andrea loved the children. And there's a verse in the Bible that I like, and when God tells Samuel, he says, man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. And that's what I see. I mean, I see that Andrea and her psychotic state meant no harm. I mean, she was trying to save the children.

KING: And you have accepted that from the beginning. But this -- can you understand this woman?

YATES: It's like how I can be angry at her when --

KING: She is saying how can you not be angry at her?

YATES: I know. And I'm saying how can I be angry at her when I believe that she was trying to save the children. I mean, her mind was sick. Her thoughts were warped. I mean, and -- but the fact is, she, you know, she didn't bring the sickness on herself. It's a biochemical disease.

KING: Are you saying, Rusty, you have never been angry at her over this?

YATES: When it first happened in my yard, I can remember I threw a chair across the yard. But it was really -- like I said from the beginning, it was like, how could you do this? I don't understand. That's what I needed to do. I needed to be able to understand why this happened. And once I didn't understand why this happened, it's like, well, how can I be mad at her? You know, she was sick. She's a victim.

She's not a criminal. And that's why I'm so offended that she's been sentenced to prison, I mean, she needs treatment. She doesn't need punishment.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Rusty Yates on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. don't go away.


KING: We're back with Rusty Yates. Clearlake, Texas. Hello?

CALLER: Yes. Hi. First let me tell Mr. Yates that I'm sorry for his loss, and I wanted to ask him, I've been following the case very closely, and I wanted to ask you if you didn't understand how ill your wife was, how you could expect a jury who were strangers to understand how sick she was and find her innocent?

YATES: Well, as far as the verdict, you know, the jurors heard testimony from many, many defense witnesses, expert witnesses. I mean, you're from Clear Lake. You know Bayer College of Medicine. We had people from there. We had the world's best expert in Fillicide. Everyone testified she was legally insane. The state had one expert and he never came out and actually testified that she was sane. If I look at the greater weight of the evidence there, it lies with the defense.

KING: Of course you didn't know how bad it was until she had killed.

YATES: Exactly. Right.

KING: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, hello?

CALLER: Hi. Good evening. Thank you for taking the call. Mr. Yates, I have two questions. I don't understand. You blame the illness. You blame the doctors. You blame the health care provider. Do you see any responsibility? Do you feel that you have any responsibility or guilt or role in this terrible tragedy? And the second I would like to know is, you are saying you are not angry at your wife, but is your wife angry at you?

YATES: The answer to the second question is no. No, Andrea and I are -- we get along fine. I know that twice, each time I testified during the, you know, during her trial she, you know, mouthed the words I love you to me and it meant a lot.

KING: Are you still in love with her?

YATES: Yes. I love her. Like I said, the only thing I have issue with is the fact that she didn't tell me that she had thoughts of harming the children.

KING: Now, any part -- any blame at all for yourself? Got to be some moments you asking yourself, what did I do wrong?

YATES: As a father, you know, my children are gone. And, you know, any father protects his children. And I look back and think, yes, there are things I could have changed and things we could have done differently. Do I think we acted irresponsibly in any way? No. Were we happy? Yes. Did I do all I could do to get medical treatment for Andrea? Do all I could do to raise the kids and protect the kids and lot of children? Yes.

I mean, if the question is, well could I go back and, would I do things differently? Sure. But we are -- were my decisions reasonable at the time? I think so, yes.

KING: How have the people at NASA treated you?

YATES: They are wonderful. Wonderful. They have been very supportive, very good about letting me attend the trial and things like that and just friends at work and co-workers have just been outstanding.

KING: What do you want to do with your life?

YATES: That's a tough question. You know, it's -- the times I've gone into work since this has happened, my heart has not been in it. I want to continue working at NASA, and I can do it. It's just, I think it's good if you are able to enjoy your work. You know, and feel that it's important and feel you are contributing in some way helping people. And I have a good, you know, somewhat unique perspective on things after having gone through this illness with Andrea and suffered the loss of our children and gone through these legal battles and, you know, the spiritual, you know, just leaning on God, really, for, you know, for faith and support, you know, during this time.

KING: Never questioned your faith?

YATES: No. It's been my savior.

KING: Five kids gone. Never questioned your faith?

YATES: No. I mean, you can go look at my Web site. I have a transcript of the funeral service out there. I don't understand why God's done this, but I trust him.

KING: What's your Web site by the way?


KING: Yates -- kids -- dot -- org. And you do that for, to help people you think?

YATES: It's mostly for me. Anyone that wants to visit the children, wants to know what the children are like or, you know, who knew the children, who want to go out there and have like, you know, a pseudo visit, I guess.

KING: And, finally, 30 seconds, how is Andrea going to handle the incarceration?

YATES: I was concerned at first. And I talked to her doctor at the jail about it. She thinks she'll do fine. Andrea can get by with not a lot. She's a good woman.

KING: Thank you Rusty. I know this couldn't have been easy. I appreciate it. Thank you very much. Russell Yates of NASA, the husband of convicted murder Andrea Yates, the father of the five children that Andrea drowned.

Andrea sentenced today in Houston.

I'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night. We'll do that right after this.


KING: Tomorrow night we'll be in Washington with Mariane Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl of the "Wall Street Journal." It will be her only prime-time live interview and we'll be including your phone calls.

Wednesday night, the newly married Liza Minnelli will join us from her honeymoon in London. Joining us now in New York to host NEWS NIGHT, is Aaron Brown, an Aaron has a special guest tonight that really will enthrall you dealing with the story of bin Laden, and I understand Aaron, we begin on a down note.




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