On June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates drowned each of her five children in her bathtub. The nation struggled to understand how a loving mother could systematically kill her children in apparent cold blood. No crime evokes more intense feelings than a mother killing her own children. There was extraordinary media coverage of her trial in Houston, Texas in 2002. Her defense attorneys, George Parnham and Wendell Odom entered a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) to multiple counts of first degree murder with death penalty specifications. The 2002 trial jury verdict of guilty was overturned on appeal. Her second trial in 2006 ended with an insanity verdict. This Article will relate the facts that led up to Andrea Yates's homicides, summarize the testimony of prosecution and defense psychiatrists, contrast Mrs. Yates's first and second trials, and comment on public perceptions of the insanity defense.


The 2006 Friedman & Gilbert Criminal Justice Forum