- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2005

HOUSTON — Prosecutors said they likely will take Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in a bathtub in 2001, to trial on murder charges again, after a court let stand a ruling overturning her conviction.

A source in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said a new trial probably will be scheduled for February or March.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to consider the office’s appeal of a decision in January by the Texas 1st Court of Appeals in Houston, which overturned Mrs. Yates’ conviction after determining that a leading prosecution witness gave false testimony.

Assistant District Attorney Alan Curry said yesterday that his office would retry the case if a plea bargain isn’t reached.

Capital murder legal analysts say a plea bargain in the case is unlikely.

Mr. Curry had argued that the court that overturned the conviction acted improperly by ruling that testimony by the prosecution witness affected the jury’s verdict.

“Andrea Yates knew precisely what she was doing,” Mr. Curry said.

Mrs. Yates, 41, drowned her children, ages 6 months to 7 years old, in her bathtub, then called police.

She was found guilty in 2002, and the jury gave her a life sentence. She remains in custody at the Skyview psychiatric prison facility in Rusk.

The court that overturned Mrs. Yates’ conviction based its decision on the testimony of Dr. Park Dietz. The psychiatrist told jurors that he had served as a consultant on the television show “Law & Order” and described an episode in which a woman who drowned her children had been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

He said the episode aired shortly before Mrs. Yates drowned her children. Prosecutors told jurors that Mrs. Yates watched “Law & Order” regularly and implied that the story line planted the idea in her mind.

After Mrs. Yates was convicted, producers of the television show contacted trial participants and said no such show ever aired.

The Houston appeals court said District Judge Belinda Hill erred in not declaring a mistrial when it was shown that Dr. Deitz’s testimony was not accurate.

George Parnham, Mrs. Yates’ lead attorney, did not reply to phone calls yesterday. He said earlier that he had no doubt that Dr. Deitz’s testimony influenced jurors.

In January, when the appeals court tossed out the trial verdict, Mr. Parnham said his defense team would not seek to have Mrs. Yates released pending a new trial.

He said that if a new trial results in a finding of not guilty because of insanity, it does not mean Mrs. Yates will walk free.

“I am certain there are circumstances in her future that could be outside four walls of razor wire,” he said, “but I don’t believe that Andrea will ever be in a position to be free of any type of mental health assistance.”

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