January 10, 2006
Yates pleads not guilty again

The retrial of Andrea Yates begins with her not guilty plea.

Appearing calm and wearing glasses and an orange jumpsuit, Yates stood next to her attorney before State District Judge Belinda Hill, who set a new trial date of March 20.

Yet her attorney, George Parnham, said Yates was "terrified'' at the prospect of another trial and seeing evidence connected to her children's deaths, who Yates admitted to drowning in the family's bathtub on June 20, 2001.


Parnham said today that he would be able to offer additional evidence of Yates' mental illness since she's been in state care during a second trial. He added, however, that he hoped the case could be resolved before then so that Yates could receive the medical treatment she needs.

Parnham said he could not discuss whether a plea agreement is possible.

Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said plea agreements are always possible and said he is considering "some things'' concerning such a possibility in the Yates' case. That includes whether Yates would be held in a prison psychiatric unit or in the general inmate population. But he added, he is "pretty far'' from making a decision.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to meet in "a couple of weeks'' and the state may make an offer then, Rosenthal said.

"I don't know the parameters of the agreement that might be worked out,'' said prosecutor Joe Owmby. "We don't have an agreement right now.''

I'm glad to hear there's a plea being discussed, even preliminarily. Both sides have good reasons to consider a plea. The defense has its own experiences to learn from, and can hope for a jury that is not death-qualified, but they did lose before and it hasn't gotten any easier to win an acquittal via insanity since then. The prosecution can certainly clean up Park Dietz's mistake, but beyond that there's not much different for them to do. It's a question of whether they want to risk a loss after all this time and effort. I think there's a decent chance that a plea agreement can be reached, but we'll see.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 10, 2006 to Crime and Punishment | TrackBack