Going on the rebuttal

I wrote before that I was puzzled by the seeming lack of aggression by the prosecutors in the second Andrea Yates trial, since it appeared they were doing very little cross examination of defense witnesses. Whatever the case was there, they’ve certainly gone into attack mode with the rebuttal phase of the trial.

A deputy who overheard Yates’ interview with MHMRA staff the day after she arrived at the jail following the deaths of her children testified she decided to kill the children the night before.

“She said the night before she had a deep impression that she should take the children to the next world the next morning,” said deputy Michael Stephens.

Stephens said he overheard Yates become very agitated when she talked about the deaths to MHMRA Director Dr. Melissa Ferguson. Stevens testified that Yates told Ferguson she shouldn’t have killed all of the children and that killing her daughter, the youngest, would have been enough.

In response to a question from Ferguson, Stephens testified, “she responded by saying that she knew what she was doing was wrong.”

Houstonist thinks this could be a blow to the defense. It’s a little hard to say how this went over with the jury, since (guess what!) there’s no report of any cross examination of Deputy Stephens. The obvious point to make is that once Yates had been medicated and was reasonably lucid again, of course she’d say she knew what she did was wrong. All that matters is whether or not she knew that at the time, when her illness was in full force.

On another front, the prosecution brought in a specialist to describe in gory detail how the Yates children died. This ground was covered in their case in chief, of course, but going over it again gives them a chance to shock the jury’s sensibilities and perhaps put them in a mind to punish someone for this horrible tragedy. It could also backfire, since you’d have to believe that Andrea Yates is evil incarnate to have been a sane person doing all these things. My personal feeling is that the jury is more likely to conclude she is and has been mentally ill, and driving home the violence of the children’s deaths would therefore only serve to underscore how firmly in the grip of her delusions she must have been.

Finally, Park Dietz is taking the stand again. What will he say this time? Who knows, but I think we all know what he won’t say. Stay tuned.

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