March 19, 2008

The Andrea Yates case and the insanity defense

Andrea Yates' case was an especially gripping one for me personally because of the timing of it. I gave birth to my fourth baby on June 18, 2001 (see my beautiful baby in the photo to the top right giving me a big smooch). She was born just two days before Andrea Yates killed her five children. Having barely survived PPD with my third baby, and knowing well the grim statistics of having it reoccur, I was slightly nervous, to put it mildly, that I would experience it again. Being bombarded with the Yates’ case on the news shortly after giving birth didn’t help my nerves to say the least…

Anyway, during that time, I was furious at the ignorance of the media on the subject of postpartum psychosis, or rather postpartum insanity. Every reporter who covered the story said she had postpartum depression, which is a completely different disorder from postpartum psychosis. I felt that this ignorance seeped its way into the Texas court system. Or perhaps it was already there to begin with. Regardless, no one, including the judges, seemed to understand the psychosis that she had to have experienced to have done what she did. Her case should have been an easy one for insanity defense. Insanely easy. However, the Texas court system has this crazy insanity standard that even Andrea Yates' illness was no match for. Unbelievably, she was found sane and locked up.

However just last week her conviction was thrown out (six years later!) and she will have a new trial. A great article was recently posted by Jonathan Turley of the LA Times about this as well as the various and weirdly conflicting (let's just call them insane!) insanity laws we have scattered around the country. It's an interesting read. But even more interesting will be how the Yates case ends up after all of these years and how Texas will come to terms with it.


Beth said...

I well remember that case. How heartbreaking....I was also fighting it after my children were born.
Thanks for the post!

Kristin said...

Thanks for your comment, Beth! Sorry you went through it too. Hope you're doing really well now.

Warm regards,

kristenL said...

After I was diagnosed with PPD. The first question my FIL asked my husband was if I was going to kill my son, and shouldn't he be taken away from me.

I found your blog through searching "pregnancy after PPD." Not pg, just scared like crazy. Your story is a great help.