Andrea Yates Case

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Andrea Yates became the talk of the country on June 20, 2001, when she reported to the police after having murdered her five children by drowning them in a bathtub. The public was left horrified by the turn of events and kept on wondering how a mother would end up killing her loving children in cold blood (Roche, 2002). During the arrest, the mother of five willingly admitted killing her children by submitting herself to the police. Later in the year 2002 after her arrest, Yates was presented before the jury in Houston with the charges of capitals murder. 

The jury’s verdict of guilty for the first case trial was overturned by this court of appeal, and she was sentenced to life imprisonment. According to the rules, the repercussion for such crimes of murder in Texas was a death penalty. The affirmative defense used by the legal defense team was based on insanity (Roche, 2002). Thus, according to such arguments, she was not guilty of her actions and therefore should have never been subjected to unfair legal consequences. However, the case was recalled and the case trial that took place in the year 2006 was granted on a verdict of insanity.

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In a court of law, it is always difficult to charge an individual who the defense is based on insanity especially when it is satisfied that the offender was mentally ill. In Texas, this affirmative defense is usually respected, however, the defense team must always be ready to prove their point by presenting evidence that shows the perpetrator has a mental or psychological problem (Durand & Barlow, 2012). Besides the defense must also be in a position to prove that their client meets the irresistible impulse test which shows that the actor was not able to control her actions.

 For instance, in this case, the jury decision was based on M’Naghten Rule that showed that Yates was so impaired that she could not understand whether what she was doing was right or wrong. The inability of the forensic psychiatrists to adhere to ethics of work and maintain personal identity and integrity in work continues to remain one of the ethical concerns in such cases (Durand & Barlow, 2012). For instances in Yates case, the prosecutor’s psychiatrist was bribed by District Attorney’s Office to give wrong understanding to the tests and ensure that offender is sentenced to life imprisonment. Such behavior was highly condemned by medical experts. 

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Durand, V. M., & Barlow, D. H. (2012). Essentials of abnormal psychology. Cengage Learning.

Roche, T. (2002). Andrea Yates: More to the story. Time Magazine.

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