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Yates pleads insanity, admits drowning her kids

Andrea Yates, the Houston mother who drowned her five children in the family’s bathtub, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Monday in three of the deaths.
Andrea Yates leaves the courtroom after a pre-trial hearing Monday in Houston.David J. Phillip / Pool via AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Andrea Yates pleaded innocent by reason of insanity in the drowning deaths of her children Monday as she made her first court appearance since her 2002 capital murder convictions were overturned.

State District Judge Belinda Hill set a March 20 trial date.

Yates, 41, will remain in the custody of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department until she is retried for the deaths of three of her five children. Her attorney, George Parnham, had asked that Yates be sent to Rusk State Hospital until the new trial.

During her original trial, jurors rejected Yates’ insanity defense and found her guilty for the 2001 deaths of three of the children drowned in the family bathtub: 7-year-old Noah, 5-year-old John and the youngest, 6-month-old Mary.

Evidence was presented about the drownings of the other two children — Paul, 3, and Luke, 2 — but Yates was not charged in their deaths.

Yates was sentenced to life in prison.

Her convictions were overturned last January by a state appeals court because of testimony by the state’s expert witness, forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz.

He testified that, shortly before Yates killed her five children, television’s “Law and Order” series broadcast an episode about a woman with postpartum depression who drowned her children. No such episode ever existed.