Bring It On!

Insanity but No Justice…

July 26th, 2006 | by Craig R. Harmon |

Jurors Find Yates Not Guilty of murdering Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2, and Mary, 6 months in their own bath-tub by their own mother.

There is, indeed, insanity here somewhere but I guess that the Yates kids are not worth justice. On the other hand, there is mercy for Andrea, who showed her own children none.

However, the insanity defense got a big boost today. Yeh team justice.

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  1. 37 Responses to “Insanity but No Justice…”

  2. By Paul Watson The Cranky Brit on Jul 26, 2006 | Reply

    Uhm, Craig, are you saying that insanity shouldn’t be a defence? Or that it doesn’t apply in this case, even though the jury thinks it does? Or that she shouldn’t have ahd a jury trial? Or the jury got it wrong? Or what?

    Clearly it is a horrible event, but if the mother is insane, what is the point of sentencing her to prison? Has she been found innocent by virtue of insanty or only guilty of a lesser crime, as would be the case here? 

  3. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 26, 2006 | Reply


    I’m no fan of the insanity defence. She murdered her children. There’s no one disputing that. I didn’t hear the evidence so I’m in no position to second guess the jury on whether she’s insane. Insanity, to me, is way too indefinite a thing and psychology way too imperfect a science, to determine that a woman who kills five of her children isn’t guilty of murder.

    You see, it isn’t an event like the sun appearing to sink below the horizon. It was an event as in a woman decided to drown her children. It really is of no interest to me why she drowned her children. I am firmly of the belief that drowning children is a crime for the doing of which one should be tried, convicted, and rot in prison.

    I don’t know about the question of lesser crime here.

    What is the point of sentencing her to prison? Justice for her children.

  4. By Jersey McJones on Jul 26, 2006 | Reply

    I wrote about this today:

    The jury in the Andrea Yates sentencing phase of her trial has just minutes ago decided she is not guilty by reason of insanity. (Now, if they could just try that hubby of her’s!)

    Rusty Yates, the husband, and Andrea were “adherents to a conservative Christian church that encouraged large families with the husband at the head of the household.” She had two suicide attempts, post-partum depression, a miscarraige all under her belt, which I’m sure wasn’t helped by her husband’s insistance that she shed her Catholicism (which has great psychiatric assistance programs) for his “church.” Here’s the man, Michael Peter Woroniecki, who was the “spiritual mentor” for Rusty and Andrea Yates per good ol’ Wikipedia:

    On June 20, 2001, one of Woroniecki’s disciples for the previous nine years, Andrea Pia Yates killed all five of her children. Eventually, Woroniecki surfaced in the media when evidence was admitted in court implicating Woroniecki’s teaching in a newsletter called The Perilous Times as having negatively scripted Andrea’s psychotic mind. Andrea had delusively believed that she was a horrible mother who couldn’t give Jesus to her children and that because of her, her children would become spiritually damaged and end up in hell.

    Feeling the weight of hopelessness infused by Woroniecki’s condemnation and her inability to get saved so she could in turn save her children, Andrea psychotically reasoned that it would be better for them to drown in their innocent years, be trained instead by God and go to heaven rather than grow up damaged and be sent to hell because of her “bad mothering” according to her prison psychiatric interviews.

    Was this man investigated? What if he knew what she was planning? Well, like with the Anthrax Attacks, the sleazy cons we have running the show these days are averse to dealing with the dangerous realities of Christian Fundamentalism. After all, they need the votes! And any and all questioning or doubt of American perfectionism is antithetical to the flag-waving, “patriotic,” Bible thumping, rabble-rousing, rightwing rhetoricians.

    So, yes, the jury did the right thing here. Of course the woman was mad. Justice, in such a horrifically tragic case, was done. But remember, when she called the police their was a hymn playing in the background. A hymn. Perhaps it’s time we consider a new legal standard - guilty or not guilty by reason of Christian Fundamentalism - or Michael Woroniecki.

    (Does that wrap it up for you, Craig?)


  5. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 26, 2006 | Reply


    This is an interesting turn of phrase: “What if he knew what she was planning?”

    What she was planning? You mean that she planned the murder of her children? So much for inability to form the requisite intent.

    I guess that if the husband knew what his wife was planning and did nothing, he’s as guilty as she but you’ve done yourself no favors if you are trying to prove that justice was served here by letting her off with a not guilty charge.

    That the couple were members of a fundamentalist sect is a red herring. Unless you are trying to smear all fundies as child murderers or saying that being a fundie, in itself, is sufficient to get one off for committing crimes, what you’ve said there is irrelevant. What it sounds like you are saying is that the woman whom everyone admits did drown her children is guilty of nothing while a spiritual leader and the woman’s husband ARE guilty because, well, because she had been “negatively scripted”. Now that’s insane.

  6. By Jersey McJones on Jul 26, 2006 | Reply

    Craig, she’s nuts.  She needs help.  And society needs to figure out what went wrong with her.  And, apparently, her church and her husband were BIG parts of the problem.  Though the law says otherwise, intent and insanity are not mutually exclusive.

    But as a fine idiot (me) once said, “and right is wrong if wrong is law and the law is always right.”

    Get real, Craig. 


  7. By Paul Watson The Cranky Brit on Jul 26, 2006 | Reply


    By lesser charge, I meant that in the UK if you are found not guilty of murder, you can still be convicted of manslaughter, and if you are not guilty on the basis of insanity or provocation you usually will be found guilty of this charge., but the sentencing options are broader. Insanity usually includes treatment and detention until such treatment has made you within the normal societal levels of insanity.

    Not sure if that happens in the US, so I was seeking clarification.

  8. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 26, 2006 | Reply


    Thanks for the info. I’m afraid I can’t answer for practice in the US. 

  9. By maha on Jul 26, 2006 | Reply

    The more you know about this case, the more you understand that Yates was horribly psychotic when she killed her children. She had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years before the killings, and just two weeks before the killings she was taken off her anti-psychotic meds (mostly Haldol, as I remember) cold turkey by an incompetent psychiatrist. A number of psychiatrists and psychologists worked with her during the several months she spent in the Harris County Jail; they all said she was massively psychotic. Several said she was the sickest person they had ever seen.

     Since the first trial, several news stories have reported that half the time she still doesn’t know her kids are dead. She still has to be kept heavily medicated.

     In most states, this case would never have gone to trial. Unfortunately, Yates killed her children in Texas, so some prosecutors spent millions of dollars in taxpayer money getting their names in the paper.

  10. By Dusty on Jul 26, 2006 | Reply

    This is one of “those” subjects where people have opinions and don’t know the history behind the case. Andrea attempted to get help for her post-partum depression after each birth. It got worse. Her husband and her minister told her god would help her get through it. 

    He didn’t. And neither did they.

    She is a sick woman. No one can say she wasn’t out of her mind. Who would kill their own children otherwise? Justice isn’t about the children, its about even-handed punishment for the crime, or so I believe.Texas tried to railroad her, when its quite obvious after listening to testimony from her first trial that she was out of her mind. She was a victim of circumstance and sadly, so where her children.

    Her husband if he is indeed a man, should be ashamed that he did nothing when all the warning signs of postpartum depression hit her like a ton of bricks, birth after birth. Its a rational defense and unless you have been through it, there is no way in hell you can understand it. 

    If you want justice for the children, god will have to deal with her and what she did. In a court of law, insanity is a defense that has been utilized by others that had no to right to it..the case that comes to mind for me, is Harvey Milks murder in San Francisco.

    This is another case of religion trumping common sense. Her husband ,who got to leave the house everyday, put his religious beliefs above the needs of his wife.  Andrea taught the children at home, and very seldom left the confines of her home. He kept her “barefoot and pregnant”. He also was the “master of the domain”. He is the one that should be held accountable for what happened.

     But he won’t be. On earth anyway.


  11. By Sandy on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    The verdict made me crazed with anger. The stupid woman murdered her children! She methodically dragged each one into the bathroom, beat them, and held their heads under water as they gasped for air and life.

    She deserves the death penalty. She deserves to die the same horrendous way her children did.

    There is NO EXCUSE for this woman who CHOSE to kill innocents.

    Insanity my @ss! Crazy like a fox that woman. And her getting off sets the stage for every nutjob who wants to kill people and get away with it.

    I have NO SYMPATHY OR EMPATHY for her. She is Satanic, evil, and deserves to rot in hell. NOW!

  12. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    No, no, Sandy. As I understand it, it wasn’t her fault. It was everyone else around her that’s to blame. She just happened to be in her body when she drowned her children. The real murderers were miles away at the time, negatively scripting her. Or, well, that seems to be the general opinion.

  13. By Dusty on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    I had a heated discussion within the last two days with another republican about this case. Seems you folks fail to grasp the insanity defense. The appeals court did and thats all that matters. She was a bible thumper so I don’t get sandy’s satanic comment. But then, I don’t get most of Sandy’s incoherent rants…my bad. As a woman Sandy, have you ever experience postpartum depression? You can make excuses for others that perhaps might of committed heinous murders but you both refuse to provide this woman any understanding of the events that transpired prior to her killing her innocent children. We all agree it is a horrible disgusting act. Frankly I am surprised at Craig’s last response.

  14. By Sandy on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    I followed the case since day one and I comprehend it beyond anyone’s knowledge. I don’t buy the whole post-partum depression theory. Take personal responsibility. Don’t blame your hormones or Satan for your choices.

    Yates may have been a Bible thumper, but she was NO CHRISTIAN! Christians don’t kill children.

    And I grasp the insanity defense allright. I just don’t buy it!

  15. By Dusty on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    Will you buy it if the soldiers accused of raping and murdering the girl in Iraq use it Sandy? Just curious..

    Christians don’t lose their mind? You are out there, aren’t you? And since you didn’t answer my question you evidently have never suffered even a mild case of PPD. 

    No one’s asking YOU to buy it. The appeals court did. 

  16. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply


    I guess it was pretty sarcastic. Sorry about that. But it does capture my sense of the general opinion of those who have commented here. Everyone seems to think that the husband and pastor are more guilty than Andrea. I don’t get it and I guess that I never will.

    I do feel sorry for her. From what people have said about it, her life was pretty awful but lot’s of people’s lives are pretty awful. Lot’s of people’s lives are awful. They don’t kill their children. I’m no stranger to depression, having been plagued with it throughout much of my life without ever even thinking of killing anyone.

    As you say, all that matters is that the appeals court agreed with you. That doesn’t stop me from thinking that this was and is an injustice. My understanding for the woman does not translate to “not guilty” of killing the children whom everyone agrees that she killed.

  17. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply


    I wasn’t there so I don’t know who did what. I won’t do what I have castigated Murtha for doing: presume them guilty. However, charges are going to be laid, if they haven’t been already, and they are going to go to trial. If they do use insanity, for myself, no, I won’t buy it or the variation that the soldiers’ legal counsel are likely to use: post traumatic stress syndrom/disorder. If they try to say that it’s Bush’s fault, I won’t buy it either.

  18. By Dusty on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    Craig, my kneejerk reaction when this happened was she should die for it. She should be given the death penalty. I was appalled that anyone not under the influence of crack or some such disgusting drug could kill their children. 

    Her husband and pastor share the blame for the crime, but are not guilty, I had one child and I did have a mild case of PPD. Its a horrible thing Craig. I can not begin to tell you how horrible a mild case is, I can’t even try to understand how a severe case would feel. Its a form of psychosis I think..someone else might know more than I do regarding the severe cases.

    The one that bothers me is the lady that premeditated the murder of her two young sons by strapping them in their car seats and pushing it into a lake  back east. She was given a life sentence and I was sickened by that one. She deserved to die in my opinion.

    This case is far too complicated for a slick, quick assessment IMHO. That is how I tried to explain it to my husbands friend who screamed at me for not agreeing with him along your line of thinking. 

    This case does bring out the anger in people, thats the only given for me. I was angry and sickened by it like you and everyone else. But what kind of society are we if we kill sick people? people who are REALLY sick, not the ones that claim insanity and were no where near that state when they killed an individual or individuals.

    Depression is a horrible thing. As you and I both know. It can manifest in so many ways. I just think this case is too complicated.

  19. By Dusty on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    Well, we agree that the soldiers in Iraq can’t use the ptsd or insanity plea regarding the rape and killing of the young girl and her family. The ones that went through the houses shooting everyone and then trying to cover it up..I don’t know about them. Premeditation to hide the crime removes any doubt about willful killing in my mind. I am just glad I will not have to decide their or anyone else’s fate with regards to murder by reason of insanity.

  20. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply


    I haven’t said that she should be executed for her crime. As a matter of fact, I do not favor the death penalty.

  21. By Dusty on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    I know Craig. I said it w/regard to Susan what’s her name that killed her two young boys. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

  22. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    Yes, that too was an awful case. She first said that her car, with her children in it, was carjacked by a black man. Thankfully her story fell apart fairly quickly before a bunch of innocent people were hassled over it.

  23. By Dusty on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    Strange..a conservative that hates the death penalty and a liberal that doesn’t.

    That case was more than awful, it was a travesty of justice as far as I am concerned, along the lines of your feelings in the Yates case. But I want her to die for it. I would pull the handle to get it done…I swear I would. But the jury refused to give her the death penalty.

  24. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    My objection to the death penalty is not so much that I object to executing those who kill others but rests upon these grounds:

    1. People, juries, are fallible. Fallibility in a life sentence can be reversed even after years of unjust imprisonment. Fallibility in capital cases is irreversible and, to me, at least, unacceptable.

    2. Prosecutors who want successful, high profile prosecutions, might withhold exculpatory evidence from the defense which might result in unjust jury findings or sentencing. Again, in less than capital cases, these can be uncovered and reversed, not so once an execution has taken place.

    3. Juries, being people, have their prejudices. I think of the original movie “12 angry men” which followed deliberations of a jury in a murder case. In that case, they arived at a just decision in my opinion over the loud and long protestations of some very prejudiced jurors. Nice for a movie but real jury deliberations aren’t scripted to always arrive at the just result.

    4. Prosecutors often use peremptory recusals of jurors to stack the jury with all whites against a black defendant. That doesn’t, in itself, result in an unjust finding or sentence but it does make an excellent environment for finding black defendants guilty, even if they aren’t.

    5. Murder defendants who don’t have a lot of money can’t afford a quality lawyer. Sometimes the lawyer they get is incompetent. Sometimes that results in evidence not getting presented or poor or non-existent cross examinations of witnesses and, while they get a pro-bono lawyer, paid for by the state, the state doesn’t pay for expert witnesses.

    None of this makes for a high level of confidence that unjust executions won’t take place.

    I realize that there are cases where there is virtually no doubt of guilt but such cases are rare. In most cases, it is reasonable doubt which, in a more perfect world, would be good enough. In this world, for me, it’s not.

  25. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    “peremptory recusals” in #4 above should read “preemptory recusals”.

  26. By Dusty on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    I have considered all the arguements you put forth before. I do not ALWAYS feel the death penalty is a good thing for the same reasons you list. If the evidence is a no-miss, like DNA or the killer admits to the crime, then I am all for it. But I have worried about innocents being killed Craig.And we all know its happened here. That fact can not be denied. I just hope that the appeals courts will win out if the evidence isn’t there. Don’t we have to trust our judicial system at some point? 

    Afterthought..doesn’t most of Europe outlaw the death penality? 

  27. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    I am not aware of a single European country that allows the death penalty. In fact, many nations refuse to send accused murderers that are in their jurisdictions back to the US in cases where there is the possibility that they will be sentenced to death. There are only a handful of countries, besides the US, that have the death penalty. I’m afraid that the countries in which we find ourselves isn’t a very auspicious lot.

  28. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    I do trust our justice system to a pretty great degree. Life without parole is just fine with me, as a sentence for the most heinous crimes.

  29. By Dusty on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    I could live with the US outlawing the death penalty. It would make me feel better actually. Life in prison has got to be a daily death in and of itself. 

  30. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    Then we aren’t in such great disagreement after all.

  31. By Dusty on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    We agree on ending the death penalty and that the Iraq soldiers shouldn’t be able to use the PTSD or insanity defense..wotta night..I found common ground with a repube.

    In my mind we all share alot of the same goals, just not how to get there. The press likes it when we disagree and spar with each other. I think the current administration likes it too when we disagree. divide and conquer.

  32. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    Not bad for a night’s chatting.

  33. By Dusty on Jul 27, 2006 | Reply

    Now if we could only solve the worlds would be wonderful AND fruitful.

    If both sides of the political coin, libs and repubes could sit and talk it out, we would find the common ground and move from there. Like I said, we really agree on goals, its how to attain them. By we, I mean rational people. Sandy doesn’t fall into this catagory. 

  34. By Paul Watson The Cranky Brit on Jul 28, 2006 | Reply

    Just to chime in with some late confirmation:

    No country in Europe has the death penalty. In fact, you can’t join the EU if you have the death penalty, one of the problems with Turkey’s membership. And we don’t send people back to face trial where they will face the death penalty or torture. This is due to our obligaitons under the human rights treaty which defines the death penalty as a cruel and unusual punishment, and is the reason America has yet to, as far as I know, sign this treaty, or possibly just an EU wide treaty. I’m not quite sure which treaty is involved.

  35. By Dusty on Jul 28, 2006 | Reply

    I worry about the issues of killing an innocent person. cruel and unusual is hanging or electrocution to me. We use injections now. But I appreciate the EU’s view and thanks for verifying Craigs statement :)

  36. By Paul Watson The Cranky Brit on Jul 28, 2006 | Reply

    I forgot to mention, we do frequently send suspects to the US, but only after we get an official assurance that the death penalty will not be imposed. So far, all of those assurances have been honoured, or none would be believed in future.

  37. By Craig R. Harmon on Jul 28, 2006 | Reply

    Thanks Paul. I was pretty sure that was the case.

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