A Houston grand jury is looking into some erroneous statements made by Dr. Park Dietz, an expert witness for the prosecution during his testimony in the trial of Andrea Yates.
Nationally renowned for his work on cases such as those of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, Dietz was a key prosecution witness in Yates' trial. He was paid $50,000 for his services.
Shortly before the end of testimony, defense attorney George Parhnam asked Dietz, who is a consultant for the television drama Law and Order, about his work on the show.
Dietz told jurors that an episode about a mother who drowned her children and was acquitted with an insanity defense had aired before Yates killed her five children in the same manner.
In his closing arguments, prosecutor [Joe] Owmby implied that Yates had been influenced by the episode Dietz described, saying Yates saw the show as a way out of her trapped marriage.
The jury rejected Yates' insanity defense and found her guilty of capital murder. It was not until two days after that verdict that the defense learned that no such episode existed.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors, who said they learned of the mistake from Dietz after closing arguments, wrote a statement about the error that was read to jurors before they decided on Yates' punishment -- life in prison.
Since then, defense attorneys, on the Yates case and others, have questioned the nature and impact of Dietz's inaccurate testimony, which he and prosecutors have labeled as an honest mistake.
That said, I have no clue, and the story gives no clear indication, why a grand jury is looking into this. I suppose a perjury charge against Dietz is one possibility, but beyond that I can't say. Any lawyers wanna speculate for me?Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 12, 2003 to Crime and Punishment | TrackBack