Return to Transcripts main page
Yates Released on Bail
Aired February 2, 2006 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, breaking news. Five-time killer mom Andrea Yates is out of jail. Yes, you heard right! We go live to that Texas facility, just $20,000 bond, for Andrea Yates, a "get out of jail free" ticket.
Plus tonight, after the husband announces he wants a divorce, police say she, Paula Mendez, poisoned her three children in retaliation.
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Tonight, live to Arkansas. Friends and family mourn the loss of three children -- three children! -- including a set of twins. Were they poisoned by their own mother to retaliate against her husband`s plans to divorce? That`s some get-back! Tonight, the children are laid to rest.
But first tonight, breaking news. It`s not a "whodunnit," it was a "Why`d she do it?" Five-time killer mom Andrea Yates drowned all five of her children, one by one. Today, she walks out of jail in exchange for a $20,000 bond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSELL YATES, ANDREA YATES`S EX-HUSBAND: It`s absolutely devastating. And you know, in our society, we think, well, someone does wrong and we automatically think they need to be punished.
GEORGE PARNHAM, ANDREA YATES`S ATTORNEY: On the 20th of June of 2001, Andrea Yates was a severely mentally ill individual.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not making light of people`s problems that they have, but there is no excuse for murder.
RUSSELL YATES: I think what she did is horrible, and you know, hurt me, hurt our children, hurt all of our families. But it doesn`t mean that she needs to be punished.
PARNHAM: She will have available to her what indigent mentally ill individuals in our state need to have.
RUSSELL YATES: The most constructive thing to do is send her to a mental institution until she`s well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Let`s go straight out to Michael Shiloh, reporter with KFNC radio. Welcome, Michael. Could you tell me what`s going on? Is it true that the judge posted a $200,000 bond, which, in effect, is, 10 percent, a $20,000 bond, but did the bonding company let her go for zilch, nada? She`s basically free on her own recognizance?
MICHAEL SHILOH, KFNC RADIO: Well, not her own recognizance. She`s posted that bond, which was supplied by her lawyer, Mr. Parnham. And she is now at the Rusk state facility, which right here, the Rusk State Hospital, which is a fairly progressive hospital right here in the middle of God`s country. To put it in perspective, Dallas is about 140 miles this way. Houston is about 160 miles that way. We`re right out here in lumber country, far away from just about everything, except, of course, the townspeople themselves and the Rusk State Hospital.
Now, she will be here for at least a few weeks. This is not a guaranteed thing, though.
GRACE: What do you mean...
SHILOH: She`s not going to stay here for a long time.
GRACE: What do you mean it`s not a guaranteed thing?
SHILOH: She`s not going to stay here for a long time. She`s going to be here temporarily because she will be going back to the Harris County jail in about six weeks because she has her second trial coming up here for the deaths of three of those five children she killed.
GRACE: Question, Michael. We have got reports tonight -- you said her lawyer, George Parnham, put the money up, but reports are coming through tonight that the money was simply the cost of the bonding, that she did not even have to put up the $20,000. Can you clarify?
SHILOH: Well, now, the word that I have on that was that, indeed, there was some money put up, in addition to just the fees. So that`s conflicting information.
GRACE: Well, what do you mean, some money was put up in addition to the fees?
SHILOH: Well, my understanding was that the entire 10 percent was put down, $20,000 of the $200,000 bond that the judge set.
GRACE: Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t feel any different than anybody else can feel. It`s hard for everybody to look at those children`s pictures. It`s harder to look at them alive even than it is pictures when they -- morgue pictures because, you know, you`re looking at them alive and realizing what they -- what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she was mentally ill. We don`t believe she was faking. But we still believe she knew right from wrong. This is a case where she had thought about this, according to her statement that she gave to the police, up to two years before. She had made the decision the night before. She was very methodical in the planning. And after completing the crime, she contacted the police. She made a statement to the police. And I believe it was very clear that although she is mentally ill, she`s still capable of knowing right from wrong, and she`s criminally responsible for her actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Tonight, the AP, Associated Press, is reporting this woman, a five-time killer who methodically drowned each one of her five children, only tried on three of those crimes, did not even put up 10 percent of the bond, just paid the cost of doing business.
To investigative reporter Leslie Snadowsky. What do you know about the facility Andrea Yates will be housed in, Rusk mental facility?
LESLIE SNADOWSKY, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, I had an opportunity to talk to Ted Debbs (ph), who`s the superintendent over there, and I asked him about some of the therapeutic programs that Andrea might be partaking in. And even though he couldn`t confirm or deny anything about Andrea in particular, he did tell me some of the things that -- I`ll tell you, it`s a little shocking, Nancy. I mean, a lot of people associate Andrea Yates as, like, a monster mom who, you know, murdered her five kids, but at this facility, she`ll have the opportunity to eat with men and women, coed (INAUDIBLE) So on one side will be men, on the other side will be women. So she will be able to commingle. There are dances every week. And that type of social interaction is supposedly good therapy, but there are dances every week. There`s art therapy. She`ll have the opportunity, if she partakes in this program, to paint or draw, and there`s actually art exhibits at this facility. There`s also...
GRACE: Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Wait a minute, dear. Hold on. I want the viewers to know -- this is a shot of the Rusk facility. You see those -- are they swans? Holy moly!
GRACE: This looks like a lakeside cabin. Hold on. Elizabeth, do I have George Parnham?
George Parnham, if I`m ever convicted of murder, will you -- or accused of murder, will you represent me, please? It could happen!
GRACE: Because this is some -- some...
PARNHAM: We`ll talk about it, Nancy.
GRACE: It looks like a gated community that you`ve got your client in. And George, while I`ve got you here, number one -- everybody, I`ve got George Parnham on the hot seat tonight. But before I torture him, let me point out that Parnham is actually one of the best defense attorneys in this country. As you recall, Yates was convicted at the time on three of the murders. She pled insanity. She tried to plead insanity. Jury rejected it. But now there is a new trial based on appeals by Parnham.
Let me just ask you a question, George. According to the AP, it says you, George Parnham says, Billy Pastor (ph), the bondsman, agreed to write the bond and only charge costs. Is that true?
PARNHAM: Yes, that`s correct, Nancy. The circumstances surrounding that -- for clarification...
GRACE: Excuse me! I`m choking!
PARNHAM: That`s all right. You OK?
GRACE: So this is a five-time killer. There`s no doubt about that. And she`s out basically no bond. She`s paid court costs to get out.
PARNHAM: Nancy, first of all, she doesn`t have any money to pay anybody anything, period. Her family is absolutely destitute.
GRACE: I didn`t ask that!
PARNHAM: I understand, but let me put this in the proper perspective. Because of my relationship with individuals in this community and because I, as a criminal defense lawyer, have used the services of Mr. Pastor in the past, we were able to negotiate, after the hearing yesterday, whereby he would, as a good person, as an individual who has a good relationship with me, post the bond in this case, and that I would...
GRACE: Man, you can talk!
PARNHAM: ... I would -- I would pay -- I would pay the cost...
GRACE: If you break...
PARNHAM: ... to him eventually, when I make it.
GRACE: If you break down those three paragraphs you just gave me -- you put a sermon on me, George. Basically, she walked out free, other than some bail bonding costs. And let me ask you something, George. I know you don`t want to talk about this, but a paddy wagon did not carry her. She drowned her five kids. Was it a limo that she drove out in today?
PARNHAM: No. Actually, I`m not sure what type of an automobile it was. But like anybody that makes a bond -- Andrea Yates is no different than any other individual who stands charged with an offense...
GRACE: I`m sorry...
PARNHAM: ... she gets transportation from a jail facility -- many people don`t -- when she walks out of the state -- or the jail system in Harris County.
GRACE: Looks like a Crown Vic with tinted windows. You know, I`m sorry, every multiple killer, mass killer that I`ve ever dealt with, they did not ride in an air-conditioned Crown Vic limo. They were in the back of one of those big buses with bars on the windows. But I`ve got to ask you...
PARNHAM: Not if they`ve made bond.
GRACE: You`re right. I`ve never known of a five-time killer making bond. But George...
PARNHAM: Well, this is a special circumstance.
GRACE: Yes, it certainly is. You are the defense attorney. I think that...
PARNHAM: Mental illness...
GRACE: ... is the special circumstance!
PARNHAM: ... speaks for itself.
GRACE: Hey, George, another question. Is it true that between the jail and the Rusk facility where -- that -- Elizabeth, can you show me that lakeside facility again -- that you guys made several pit stops? Did you stop for any snacks, any...
PARNHAM: Well, you know, what`s interesting, people have to go to the bathroom. That`s a three-and-a-half to four-hour trip, and we don`t have a porta-potty to go along in that -- in that -- actually, two vehicles. We had...
GRACE: So you`re saying on the record there was no McDonald`s, Burger King action going down...
PARNHAM: I got -- I got...
GRACE: ... for the five-time killer.
PARNHAM: I got her some food. I certainly did.
GRACE: OK, well, I won`t convict you of that. George Parnham, I have to tell you, even though I disagree with this deeply, you are one heck of a trial lawyer. I`m not quite sure how you pulled this thing off, but I`m darned impressed.
I want to quickly go back to Leslie Snadowsky and let George Parnham have a brief rest. Leslie, does the name Yvonne Rodriguez (ph) ring a bell to you? She was in the Rusk facility back in 1998 after she strangled her child with the rosary beads, and she actually got pregnant there. You were mentioning the coed housing, the weekly dances, the canteen, the pet therapy, the picnics, the coed dining hall, the art therapy. Actually, they even have adopt-a-patient. People can adopt them and take them out of the facility. Are you surprised, Leslie?
SNADOWSKY: Well, it`s a very interesting case. I mean, Yvonne Rodriguez, as you mentioned, (INAUDIBLE) choked her 4-year-old -- sorry, 4- month old with rosary beads, saying that the baby was possessed by demons, and she got acquitted. I mean, all that she really got was just, like, probation and she has to stay in a mental hospital. But at this mental hospital, in particular, she got pregnant and she had another baby. And they had to actually put it up for adoption. I believe, actually, it`s with her mother. But you know...
GRACE: It`s not the adoption that I`m worried about.
George Parnham, do you think Andrea Yates is going to be attending any of these square dances they have every week, or the picnics, the art therapy, the pet therapy, the roaming free on the grounds?
PARNHAM: Nancy, I feel certain that she will comply with any requirement or participate in any regimen at that facility that her doctors recommend. That`s the way Andrea Yates is.
You know, mental illness is not an excuse for actions, and I`ve never meant it to be construed as such. Mental illness caused what occurred on the June 20 the of `01. This is not a Susan Smith. This is not the woman in Arkansas. Severely mentally ill Andrea Yates, as agreed to by the state of Texas then and now, a severely mentally ill individual caused the deaths of those children that she loved deeply. And unless we treat...
GRACE: Well, you know, what? I know...
PARNHAM: Unless we treat...
GRACE: ... you think that, but...
PARNHAM: ... that mental illness...
GRACE: Let me ask you something, George.
GRACE: Did the jury find her insane?
PARNHAM: No. You know.
GRACE: OK. Thanks.
Let`s go to the "Star Chamber" tonight. Tonight, joining us, three very well respected criminal trial judges from all across this country, to comment on this judge granting a five-time convicted killer of children -- and I know that she may have a mental illness. I understand that. Whether it rose to the level of insanity -- a jury disagreed. They heard the evidence.
I want to first go to Judge Ted Poe. He was actually there in the courthouse, in the courtroom down the hall, when this went down, when Yates was granted basically a no-bond. Judge Poe, welcome to the show. Sir, you and I were there in Washington a few months ago, trying to push through the child safety act of 2005. Remember that?
TED POE, FORMER HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS, JUDGE: No question about it.
GRACE: What do you make of a five-time killer of children basically getting no bond?
POE: Well, this is an interesting situation. As you know, I was a pretty strong law-and-order judge when I was on the bench down in Texas. In her particular case, if she was convicted, there`s a chance she could go to Rusk State Hospital anyway. Everyone agrees she`s mentally ill. The question is, Did she know the difference between right and wrong?
GRACE: Well, the jury has already ruled, Judge Poe.
POE: Well, the thing is, that case has been reversed...
GRACE: It certainly has.
POE: ... as we all know. and they`re going to try it again...
GRACE: That`s right.
POE: ... because of mistakes that were made by the prosecution in the trial.
GRACE: That`s right.
POE: But it`s obvious that the judge in it case, who`s a very good jurist, wants to make sure that at the time of this trial in six weeks, that Andrea Yates is of sound mind, that she`s mentally competent to be tried, because we can`t try them if Texas if they are mentally incompetent...
POE: ... at the time of the trial. So...
POE: ... that`s my guess on why that she gave a low bond, let her put her in a car and send her to a mental institution.
GRACE: Have you ever in your life, Judge Poe -- and I know that you know this, Judge. You guys probably have coffee together and lunch there in the cafeteria. But have you ever personally granted a $200,000 bond, in effect $20,000, to a five-time convicted killer?
POE: Of course not.
POE: In a case like this, it`s capital murder. She can be held without bond. And so that was an option in this case, and that would be my guess. Haven`t talked to the judge, but I have -- that`s kind of my reasoning in this, make sure she`s of sound mind, get her tried in six weeks, let a new jury hear all the facts and decide whether or not to lock her up or let her go.
GRACE: And to Judge Gino Brogdon, a former criminal judge at the Fulton Superior Court level, tried multiple homicides -- Judge Brogdon, what`s your take on this judge granting basically a $20,000 bond on a five- time killer? I mean, mental illness is for a jury to decide.
GINO BROGDON, FORMER JUDGE, FULTON CO., GEORGIA, SUPERIOR COURT: I agree, Nancy. I differ with the judge a little bit. Finding out a little bit about this facility makes it sound more like a vacation-land for the mentally ill.
GRACE: Oh, please, Judge Brogdon! Come on! A coed facility?
GRACE: One of the most recent patients got pregnant. They`re doing more than dancing at Rusk mental health facility, all right?
And finally, to Judge Margaret Finerty, across the country in New York, a former criminal court judge. Judge, I understand that mental illness is something for a jury to determine. But this bond is outrageous! These children were covered in bruises from trying to struggle!
MARGARET FINERTY, FORMER NEW YORK CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE: I think one thing that we have to keep in mind, Nancy, is that she was in a psychiatric unit in the prison where she was being housed and she was getting treatment. So to say that she needed to go to Rusk to get fit for trial I don`t think really makes sense in this particular case because she was getting medication that she needed in prison.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: Are you there alone?
911 OPERATOR: Andrea Yates?
911 OPERATOR: Your husband there with you?
911 OPERATOR: OK. Well, why do you need the police, ma`am?
YATES: I just need them to be here.
911 OPERATOR: For what?
YATES: I just need them to come.
911 OPERATOR: You sure you`re alone?
YATES: No, my kids are here.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back. Straight out to Michael Shiloh. He is just outside the hospital where Andrea Yates is right now. It looks kind of like a gated community, Michael. Were those actually swans I saw by a lake?
SHILOH: That`s true. Yes, it`s quite a scenic facility.
SHILOH: But you have to remember, there are...
GRACE: You thinking of this...
SHILOH: ... cold reminders here...
GRACE: ... like camping out there? I mean, Elizabeth, please, roll that for me. My question to you, Michael, is do we have a retrial date? And if she`s receiving medical treatment in jail, where many of us believe she belongs, why is she moving to this mental facility? Judge Finerty just brought that up.
SHILOH: Well, there`s no question that George Parnham is passionate about his client, which he should be as a lawyer. But then again, he has pulled some strings here, apparently, and what`s going on is he`s got a March 20 trial date, six weeks from now. She`ll spend probably five weeks in this facility and then will go back to the Harris County jail. And this is actually...
GRACE: Hey, I want to move here!
GRACE: Can I come there?
SHILOH: You`ve got a salient point. You got a very good point about your -- if you ever kill anybody, he should be your lawyer.
GRACE: Yes, I want to go...
SHILOH: At the same time...
GRACE: ... right there. I want to go to Rusk and go to the coed canteen and living conditions, pet therapy, picnics, weekly dances, art therapy. I never really have time to pursue art, and I could do it there at Rusk.
SHILOH: You have to remember one thing, though. This was one of the basic rules that Mr. Parnham had for trying to work out a plea bargain deal with the prosecutors in Harris County, was that she would go to this facility and stay here permanently. Now he`s already got the precedent of her being here, which means that it may become easier to make a plea bargain. We don`t know that for sure.
GRACE: Oh, George Parnham, you little minx! Hey, Elizabeth, can you show me that sign that says follow-up therapy or follow-up visits? There you go. "Follow-up, deliver, make sure they are satisfied."
George Parnham, are you to do to go to trial March 20?
PARNHAM: We will be ready to go to trial when this case is called, that`s correct.
GRACE: What about a plea deal?
PARNHAM: Working as hard as we can, Nancy. You have to believe that. We have done extraordinary things to try to get this matter negotiated short of picking a jury. I hope we can avoid a trial. No one needs it. Certainly, the state, the citizens, and those children and Andrea do not need this. But there are some non-negotiables -- mental illness and her safety and security paramount, in our view. And hopefully, we can get it resolved. It remains to be seen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSELL YATES: I was scared to death because of her -- her tone,you know? Her tone was so -- I mean, that`s something people don`t realize. Andrea didn`t say 10 words a day, you know? I mean, you know, and then all of a sudden, she`s speaking in these sentences to me, you know, You need to come home. You need to come home. It was weird.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back. Tonight, Andrea Yates has walked out of jail, five-time convicted killer, no bond, free, basically on her own recognizance.
To Fairy Caroland, just joining us by phone. This is the great-aunt of Yates`s children. Thank you for being with us, Miss Caroland. When was the last time you spoke with Andrea?
FAIRY CAROLAND, GREAT-AUNT OF YATES CHILDREN: That was in March of 2002, during the trial.
GRACE: Do you believe she realizes what happened to her children?
CAROLAND: There are moments when she realizes it, when her medication has her stabilized. And at that point, she becomes very depressed. As her psychiatrist at the jail told her, though, long ago -- or told the rest of the family, rather, her memories of what she did are always going to be psychotic memories. They`re not going to be like memories that you and I might have.
GRACE: She had a psychiatrist treating her at the jail?
GRACE: If she had a psychiatrist and the medication she needed, why is she being moved out of the jail?
CAROLAND: Well, I think that`s a fair question. For one, it took them four months to get her medication even regulated where she could sit and converse with anyone and make much sense, whether it was her understanding what someone else was saying or her saying things that made sense to someone else. The person that got that medication regulated is now at another prison out of state. But anybody is going to be better treated mental-health-wise in a hospital rather than in a prison or a jail (INAUDIBLE) they aren`t quite equipped for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the one hand, she`s a loving mother. And on the other hand, the only time Andrea Yates gets attention is when she is in -- 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`s in the hospital and she`s not caring for the children. She knew it was wrong, because she takes not just her children. They`re 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`ll remember this trial and you`ll wonder what the mother is doing with that child. It will stab your heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: We`ve been making a lot of hay tonight about Andrea Yates going into a cushy gated-community-like mental health facility where they have picnics, and dances, and coed living, art therapy, pet therapy.
But when I see the pictures of those children and I hear that prosecutor telling the jury about how these children died, somehow lost in the sauce of today`s events are these five children. Missing from that shot, a little baby girl, an infant.
To Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst, what do you make of the prosecution`s argument that the only time she got attention from Yates was when she was sick?
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: I think that he`s making an excellent point, because every time I hear about this case, I remember the fact that she had command hallucinations in the past and she also had delusions.
And we know that one of the reasons she drowned her children is she thought she was trying to save them from Hell. But given the fact that she had the command hallucinations in the past and that this time she did not try to resist them suggests to me that she had what we call secondary gains in being ill. In other words, there was a disincentive to get better.
And so, you know, it is possible that she fed into her own illness, not in a conscious way to seek attention, but that was the only time she got attended to. So I think the whole family system is complicit in some way in this case.
And I do hope that in the psychiatric facility they help her to distinguish the voices, the delusions, the commands from external reality so that she can resist in the future.
GRACE: Let`s go back to tonight`s star chamber. Everyone, these are three highly respected former judges now off the bench.
Back to Judge Gino Brogdon, a former criminal judge in the Atlanta jurisdiction. Judge Brogdon, I get the sense that we are treating Andrea Yates differently than we would treat other people. In other words, she`s getting kid-glove treatment.
Now you want to tell me, Judge Brogdon -- be honest -- that if this were a minority mom that came out of Section Eight housing and she killed five children, that she`d have a limo drive home, get out on no bond on five murders, Judge?
BROGDON: Nancy, I don`t think that it can be reduced simply to a racial issue. But I do agree with you that she`s getting certain special treatment, partly because there are five victims instead of one.
If you look at the news in Atlanta, unfortunately, there are mothers who kill their children and it never makes the news. It never gets on national news. So the number is what makes this case kind of sexy for the media and for the national public and the fact that post-partum depression is asserted as a defense, justification for this killing, makes it very appealing.
And with the media attention, judges can be tempted to treat her with kid gloves and send her to this country club. I agree with you on that.
GRACE: Judge Brogdon, I agree with you. Nothing, not any case I have ever prosecuted or handled can be reduced to one simple factor such as gender, religion, race. But all of the factors you just mentioned -- what I`m saying is this woman is being treated differently.
And I think you really hit the nail on the head, Judge Finerty, when he talked about the star quality of this case, Andrea Yates. There are actually other mothers -- and I`m referring to the rock mom, Deanna Laney, who killed her three children and said, "I`m a soldier of God just like Andrea Yates." This woman actually has somewhat of a cult following. And I feel that she is being treated differently than everybody else, Judge.
FINERTY: Well, I understand why you feel that way, Nancy. I don`t understand why there is this change in the bail or parole status when we`re facing a new trial in two months.
I mean, I think one could make the argument that the disruption to her in her location would not be good for her mental condition, and I am concerned about the lack of security that exists at Rusk compared to the security you find in a prison, in a psychiatric unit in a prison.
GRACE: And to Judge Poe, veteran judge there in Texas, Judge, do you see a problem whatsoever with putting a convicted killer into a mental health population with other people that are not criminals?
POE: Well, this facility happens to be where, in Texas, people who are criminals, who have committed acts and have mental problems, they are sent there. This is one of the two facilities where they`re housed.
And sometimes they are housed in a prison system, but sometimes they`re also housed in this facility. It is a sort of a maximum-security prison, although it looks pretty nice. It`s changed a lot over the years.
GRACE: If it`s a maximum-security prison, Judge Poe, no offense -- I respect you on the bench -- but how did the other prisoner get pregnant, at one of the picnics or the dances?
POE: Oh, yes. No question about it, there`s some problems going on.
GRACE: Yes, there`s a lot going on.
POE: I didn`t know they had square dances there. I didn`t know that was a type of treatment for the mentally ill.
The point is she should never be released, and I think maybe we`re kind of missing that. She killed five people. She`s admitted that she`s killed them, and I don`t think she should ever be released.
I would like to say one other thing. I think she`s treated differently because of where she`s from. And she`s in a portion of the Houston area that`s a middle-class, upper, affluent area. And because of where this crime occurred, killing five people in sort of a middle-class neighborhood, the media jumped on it right away. And I think since the beginning of the trial, beginning of her arrest, she has been treated differently than someone else in other parts of the country.
GRACE: To Marc Klaas, president of BeyondMissing.com, who lost his daughter to murder, victims rights advocate, Marc, response?
MARC KLAAS, FOUNDER OF BEYOND MISSING: Well, you know, yesterday Mr. Parnham said that Andrea deserves the best that society can offer her. I would suggest that the mother who doesn`t commit crimes against her children or murders her children deserves the best treatment that society can give to them.
And that Andrea Yates, who is a convicted mass murderer, deserves to spend the rest of her life behind bars. Whether she`s getting treatment or not really doesn`t matter to me. She is a heinous criminal who committed a mass murder against her own children.
There are very few crimes that are worse than that, yet we seem to be in a society, Nancy, that finds excuses and justifications for almost everything. Personal responsibility doesn`t seem to be part of the equation in the American condition anymore, and I don`t think we`re well- served by this.
GRACE: You know, Elizabeth, do I still have Mr. Parnham?
Hey, George, again thank you for being with us tonight, even though you knew I would disagree with you. I appreciate you coming on.
I got a question for you regarding Rusk Mental Health Facility. I was doing a little research today on Rusk, and I learned that at Rusk State Hospital in one year, with only 189 patients there, 71 clients, schizophrenic, were released on the drug clozapine; 59 -- 83 percent -- didn`t come back.
If your client gets well, like Hinckley, is she free to leave?
PARNHAM: No, in reality, she`s absolutely not. She goes back to trial. And before that, she goes back to jail.
I want to make one point very, very clear. Throughout the course of this show, we have seen the photographs of her family, and we`ve heard the remarks of Mr. Klaas and the various other participants in this panel.
And to a degree, they`re right: Children are the issue. The child is the issue. And every child of future generations deserves to have a mother as free from mental illness as possible, and that`s what this case stands for. That`s what the legacy of the Yates children needs to be. And if we treat Andrea and if we learn...
GRACE: George, don`t you think they deserve to live?
PARNHAM: Well, certainly they deserved to live.
GRACE: Don`t you think that`s the most important thing, that this little girl, this six-month old baby, deserved to live?
PARNHAM: Other generations do, too, Nancy. Other generations do, too. Of course she does. Of course she did. And other generations in the future do, too. So let`s learn from this. Let`s not just waste their lives. It makes no sense.
GRACE: Wait, George, hold on a moment. Hold on a moment. You`re telling me that, by sending the mother that drowned them one by one to a place where she can have picnics and dances, that`s not -- somehow you`re saying don`t waste these children`s lives? George, they`re dead. Your client killed them.
PARNHAM: What I`m saying, Nancy, is let`s learn from what happened. Let`s learn from this tragedy. Certainly, putting her in a penitentiary for the rest of her life or giving her the death penalty is not a deterrent to any type of future behavior on the part of mentally-ill mothers.
Again, we`re not talking Susan Smith. Deanna Laney who stoned her children to death certainly heard of Andrea, and that didn`t stop her from stoning her children.
GRACE: George, I understand your position as her defense attorney, but a jury ruled against you. We`ll see what happens in March. I`ll see you in court, friend.
PARNHAM: OK. Thanks, Nancy.
GRACE: Very quickly, to tonight`s "Case Alert." Reports that police seized 27-year-old Neil Entwistle`s BMW as part of their investigation. Unclear what police are looking for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way they were positioned together in the bed was not very indicative of being suffocated together. We have strong beliefs that they were poisoned prior to being suffocated, but at this point it`s just our belief because of the evidence. We questioned Mrs. Mendez specifically on that point, and she denied poisoning her children. She said she suffocated her children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: In another case of crimes against children, we take you to Arkansas. Three young children, including a set of twins, we know were asphyxiated, smothered -- we believe possibly poisoned, as well -- when their mom, Paula, was angered over her husband`s decision to seek a divorce. Now that`s some get-back.
This woman is actually a physician. That`s right; she is a doctor in her home country.
To a reporter with the "De Queen Bee," he was at the funerals tonight for the children, Mike Bishop is with us. Mike, bring us up-to-date, friend.
MIKE BISHOP, "DE QUEEN BEE": Well, the town seems to be still in a state of shock and puzzled. There was definitely a sense of anger at the funeral tonight as well as grief. And in fact, the priest, Father Minos (ph), addressed it directly, telling the congregation that it was all right to feel anger. That`s just part of the healing process. And it`s just -- most people here are still just in total disbelief and completely puzzled.
GRACE: I agree with you.
To Tom Cooper, who is actually the prosecutor on the Mendez case, Tom, thank you for being with us. You certainly have a big trial coming up. Why is this case a capital case, in your opinion, and will the state seek the death penalty?
TOM COOPER, PROSECUTOR IN MENDEZ CASE: Yes. Ms. Mendez is charged with three counts of capital murder. Arkansas`s capital murder statute, like most states, has multiple provisions under which a person can be changed.
For example, robbery, violent felony robbery and then you kill someone in the process of leaving, killing a law enforcement officer, contract killing, to name a few.
Ms. Mendez is charged under the provision of knowingly causing the death of someone under 14, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life. She`s charged with a capital offense, in my opinion, because her crimes fit the elements of the capital charges. And I could not imagine not pursuing capital charges against an individual that purposefully killed multiple victims that are small children.
GRACE: To Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, forensic scientist, how can we determine whether or not there was poison in those hot chocolate cups lined up?
LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, that`s right, Nancy. It`s quite easy to do that using standard toxicology technology. And since they know what they`re looking for, they had found this bag of insecticide in that area. They know what they`re looking for, so it`s a matter of using instrumentation to verify that that`s exactly what was used. They will do blood studies and organ studies. They should have their results back, I would guess, in about a week to two weeks.
GRACE: To David Schwartz, defense attorney, Mendez admits she killed the children after her husband said he wants a divorce. In one of her notes, she reportedly writes, "I hope you`re happy." That`s not going to help too much on that insanity defense.
DAVID SCHWARTZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, I mean, but the insanity defense is the only way to go in this case, insanity/some sort of diminished capacity defense. That`s the way to go, Nancy. And before you called it a get-back, how could you -- you know, this is not about it being a get-back.
GRACE: Really? Really?
SCHWARTZ: I believe that...
GRACE: Because she said in her note reportedly that she couldn`t live without her husband.
SCHWARTZ: Oh, please.
GRACE: But isn`t it odd that all her kids were killed and she miraculously lived?
SCHWARTZ: Well, that is odd. You know, I`m sure she wanted to die with the kids.
GRACE: Oh, yes, it`s odd.
SCHWARTZ: But you know what, Nancy? I believe anybody who would kill their children really is insane.
GRACE: OK, you know what?
SCHWARTZ: I find it hard to believe that a woman like this would do that as a get-back, Nancy, please.
GRACE: Well then, to you, Ed Sapone, why would she write "I hope you`re happy now"?
ED SAPONE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, maybe, Nancy, she is guilty of the crime and maybe she knew exactly what she was doing, and she had the requisite mental intent to commit the crime, she knew right from wrong, she appreciated the consequences of her actions, and she was vindictive. I mean, but this is not a whodunit, but why was it done? And it`s a case for the doctors to try to sort out these sorts of facts.
GRACE: Well, what choice do you have but to go with insanity? She has admitted she killed the children.
SAPONE: Yes, this is a case...
GRACE: Schwartz is right about that one, Ed.
SAPONE: Well, he`s right. You`re left as a defense lawyer with two defenses: one, not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, commonly known as insanity plea, or extreme emotional disturbance. In many states, you know, a crime of heat of passion sort of defense, which doesn`t get you off the hook completely. It just diminishes the grade of murder. It`s sort of a lesser form of murder.
GRACE: To Tom Cooper, prosecuting attorney there in De Queen, Arkansas. Tom, when will your office be prepared to announce the penalty?
COOPER: Well, we have already made the decision not to waive the death penalty at this time. Certainly, that decision can change in the future, but I see no tactical reason or advantage of waiving it now.
There are a lot of factors that will weigh in, in the future. Specifically, I`ve never had an opportunity to seriously discuss punishment with the victims` family, and clearly the wishes and the desires of the victims` family means a great deal to me.
GRACE: Joining us, Tom Cooper out of De Queen, Arkansas. Three children dead, including a set of young twins.
Very quickly, to tonight`s "All-Points Bulletin." U.S. marshals on the lookout for David Benjamin Creamer, in connection with the distribution of child porn, money laundering, felony possession of a weapon, out of Tucson, Arizona.
He`s 60, 5`10", 220, brown hair, and blue eyes, scars on lip. If you have info, call the U.S. marshal, 1-800-336-0102.
Local news next for some of you, but we`ll all be right back. And remember, live coverage of the 16-year-old New Mexico man on trial for the shooting death of his family, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern Court TV.
Please stay with us tonight as we stop to remember Specialist Matthew C. Frantz, 23, an American hero.
GRACE: Three children lost their lives in Arkansas. Their mother apparently retaliating against her husband when he announces he wants a divorce.
To Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst, Bethany, is there any other way to interpret this other than a get-back?
MARSHALL: There definitely is, and I completely disagree with this insanity thing. She doesn`t seem to be psychotic or delusional. She was a doctor in Mexico City, for God`s sake.
I think that she had what we call pathological envy, meaning she didn`t want anyone else to be happy but her. I mean, of course, at the most superficial level, she attacked the children as a way to attack her husband, but in the note she says, "I hope you`re happy," meaning I don`t want you to be happy.
And also with the children, children are happy. They`re full of life. They`re loving. So what did she do? She didn`t want anyone but her to be happy, so she snuffed the life out of them, and then she really was relieved afterwards and didn`t have much of a conscious and calmly confessed to the police officers. I would say pathological envy.
GRACE: David Schwartz, tough road to hoe for you as a defense attorney with these notes. I think she wrote several of them.
SCHWARTZ: Well, yes, OK. But I just heard what Bethany had to say, and she`s got the whole case figured out. She`s never even met the woman. And just because she`s a doctor from Mexico City...
GRACE: Why don`t you answer the question?
SCHWARTZ: Wait, wait. That doesn`t mean she can`t be depressed, and that...
GRACE: OK, never mind.
SCHWARTZ: ... doesn`t mean that she can`t be despondent.
SCHWARTZ: Nancy, I agree with you.
GRACE: Forget it. Let me try another defense lawyer. I`ll pick somebody else out of the deck. Ed Sapone?
SCHWARTZ: The letters hurt, yes, you`re right.
GRACE: The letters kill her. This woman`s not crazy. She`s writing a novel.
SCHWARTZ: That`s the answer to your question, yes.
GRACE: You`re not Ed Sapone.
SCHWARTZ: Oh, sorry.
GRACE: Ed, take a crack at it.
SCHWARTZ: Go ahead, Ed.
SAPONE: Yes, I`m Ed Sapone, Nancy. And it`s true; the letters are devastating. But again, this is for doctors. We would have to...
GRACE: Oh, there you go again. I`m not a doctor, and I can read the letter, all right?
SAPONE: We`d have to hire a doctor to try to get inside the mind. I`m only a lawyer. I don`t know why she wrote the letters or what she was feeling. But, you know, with respect to this...
GRACE: That helped a lot with the discussion. You really advanced the theory on that one.
SAPONE: Well, look, listen, heat of passion, it`s when a person snaps and acts outside of themselves. It`s not mental disease or defect, where you don`t know what you`re doing. It just means that you`re acting in a different manner.
GRACE: OK, you two are right. We`ll hash it out when it goes to trial And according to Tom Cooper, it will.
Thank you to all of my guests...
SAPONE: Thank you.
GRACE: ... but especially to you for being with us, letting all of us into your homes.
Tonight here on the set, a special good night from two guests that have joined us from out of town, my law school study partner, Frank, and his new bride, Lisa. And also tonight, a happy birthday to a legal eagle there in California, Linda from Menlo.
I`m Nancy Grace signing off for tonight. See you here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp. Until then, good night, friend.