July 21, 2004
Andrea Yates hospitalized

This is no surprise.

Texas prison officials transferred Andrea Yates to John Sealy Hospital Monday because she has lost a significant amount of weight and her mental and physical condition has deteriorated, George Parnham said.

"There's just a blackness to her mental state right now," he said.

Parnham, who represented Yates in her trial and is handling her appeal, said he hopes to meet with her as soon as Thursday at the hospital, part of the University of Texas Medical Branch.

He said, however, "she's in no shape to talk" at present and basically is "incoherent."

Parnham said he did not know whether Yates, 40, was being fed intravenously or how much weight she has lost, but that it is a considerable amount.


[Rusty Yates] said this is the third time during his wife's prison stay that she has lapsed into what he called a "psychotic" state, adding that "this is the worst I've ever seen her, even before the tragedy."

Yates, who described his wife as "fragile" and "precious," said he last visited her on Saturday, as he does about every two weeks. He said she was shaking and delusional. "She thinks the kids are still alive," he said.


Parnham said Tuesday that Yates' physical and mental condition has remained delicate.

He said he visited her three weeks ago, but would not comment on what might have sent her into this latest tailspin. Parnham did say she is suffering from severe depression.

"There are a number of issues that have led to (this)," he said.

"She is just physically and mentally exhausted. And obviously, there is concern for her physical well-being, which prompted the transfer."

Parnham praised the treatment Yates has received for her problems, both mental and physical, at the Skyview Unit.

"But it's not a general hospital, and John Sealy is and has an excellent reputation," he said. "She's reached a point where, mentally and physically, she's having a very difficult time."

I've said all along that Andrea Yates belongs in a hospital. If there were justice in the world, she'd stay there instead of getting sent back to a cell once she's pronounced physically fit.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 21, 2004 to Crime and Punishment | TrackBack

She's mentally ill now, but I think she was sane at the time of the killings, or at least cognizant that she was doing serious wrong. She called 911 after she killed her kids and asked them to send the police.

Posted by: Yates skeptic on July 21, 2004 10:36 AM

You wrote

... her kids would not all be dead. Myself, I am not a fan of bellyaching over mass murderers. I really don't care what happens to her. I'm not going to lose any sleep if she refuses to eat and withers away.

Posted by: Yates skeptic on July 21, 2004 10:41 AM

let me try this again ...

If there were justice in the world,"

... her kids would not all be dead. Myself, I am not a fan of bellyaching over mass murderers. I really don't care what happens to her. I'm not going to lose any sleep if she refuses to eat and withers away.

Posted by: Yates skeptic on July 21, 2004 10:43 AM

Is this the lady we aren't gonna execute because
God told her to do it? I say fry her and send
the minister who preached her crazy to the mental

Posted by: Ruester on July 21, 2004 11:02 AM

The odious aspect of this entire case is that her husband and their church got off scot free. I find it appalling that these atavistic churches (and members) essentially obliterate women's free wills and egos, and then act surprised, shocked and oh-so-sad when something terrible results. I mean is it any surprise that women who are treated as basically caged baby machines go nutto when, every day, they are forced to compare their existence with most other women in our democratic and pluralistic society?

If we've got a legal system that recognizes the invalidity of wills signed under undue influence, how come we can't recognize that even more significant events can take place under undue influence?

Everett Volk

Posted by: Everett Volk on July 21, 2004 2:07 PM

Charles, you seem to have an inordinate number of compassionate conservatives visiting your site today.

My stand on Yates is much like yours, so much so that I contributed to her defense fund. There is certainly plenty of blame to go around in this case, but I agree that as for Yates herself, the best solution is ongoing hospitalization.

(Aside to Ruester: you seem to have forgotten that in Texas we don't "fry" people anymore. I have serious doubts, based on recent evidence, that our current method of execution is any less cruel than electrocution was, but it looks bad when you don't even know how it's done. Or did you perhaps have in mind some still more spectacular sort of vigilante justice?)

Posted by: Steve Bates on July 21, 2004 3:13 PM

There is a very interesting argument in a case like this that I never really see brought up. Can a person be mentally ill and still be held personally accountable for their actions? I mention this more from a personal standpoint, since I did some things I am not proud of when I was a teenager, and to put my cards on the table, I have being dealing with mental illness most of my life. I accept full responsibility for what I did and have managed to live quite well.

The legal system does not allow for a verdict of "Guilty, but mentally ill". A verdict such as this would allow the person to be treated in a psychiatric hospital until such time that they are psychiatrically capable of leaving that setting and move to prison or until that person has been judged to be mentally competent after the period that they would have been sentenced to in prison.

The key issue everybody seems to mention is the call to the police. From my experience, I know it's possible for a person to know that an action is wrong, still commit said action since they are not in the right frame of mind and seek help upon realizing what has happened. Does that make Andrea Yates sane at the time of the crime? I don't think she was rational. Does that mean she should not accept responsibility for what she did? I can see how she when she called the police.

I'll get off my soapbox for now.

Posted by: William Hughes on July 21, 2004 8:04 PM

hi. i was one of millions who followed this case closely and read everything about andrea yates i could find. there was something about this woman that represented the 'new mother' syndrome. that would include but not be limited to, excess worry, a need to follow God's guidelines in raising children, fatigue, excess concern and care for her dependents. as a mother of four, i know how raising a family can lend itself to many emotional upheavels. i feel sorry for andrea. she seems so confused and almost helpless. about that call to the police. andrea seemed to be a dutiful person. even suffering mental illness, she still had instinct enough because of her upbringing to call the police. i'm not defending her. she is sick and will need constant care. and those of you that want her punished. every minute of every day she is being punished in probably the worst way possible. memories.

Posted by: jeannie c. on July 26, 2004 7:52 AM

I kind of view the call to the police as part of the whole delusional system under which Mrs. Yates was operating. I also suspect that Mrs. Yates does in fact hold herself accountable for her behavior. However I think that her severe mental illness makes it appallingly difficult for her to cope with what she has done. I don't for a moment think the lives of 5 children should have been lost; but I absolutely agree that treatment is the appropriate resolution. And I say this with perhaps a different understanding: I grew up with a mentally ill mother who at times threatened to kill us, her children, and was physically violent. Never in my life, not once, have I ever wished that she was imprisoned. Treated, yes. Imprisoned, no.

Posted by: tc on August 29, 2004 10:58 PM

Well, all I can say is that I have been "delusional". I have a history of this type of behavior. I grew up with a mother who was had a long history of mental problems. Thank goodness my "delusions" thus far have only manifested themselves in my own physical complaints. But, I must say that if it were to get to the point that I would have my potential psychosis effect my child, then I would let the punishment fit the crime. I think that it is sad that Mrs. Yates may not understand the crime that she has commited, but I think that her sentence is fair. I almost hope that she remains oblivious because if I were to wake up from the nighmare I am sure that I would pray for death.

Posted by: EJ on October 14, 2004 1:47 AM