- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

HOUSTON (AP) Andrea Yates moaned, cried and pulled at her hair the morning after she was arrested for drowning her five children, a jail psychiatrist testified yesterday in defense of the Houston woman.
The testimony came as Mrs. Yates' lawyers began making their case to jurors that she is not guilty of capital murder by reason of insanity.
Dr. Melissa Ferguson said Mrs. Yates had to be given a sedative while she was being assessed in the county jail's psychiatric unit June 21.
A day earlier, she had called police to her Houston home, then told officers she drowned her children in a bathtub. Conviction could get her the death penalty.
Before Dr. Ferguson began testifying yesterday, prosecutors finished their case by calling Harminder S. Narula, an assistant medical examiner who testified about his autopsy of the oldest Yates child, 7-year-old Noah.
Dr. Narula said Noah's head, arms and legs had recent bruising likely caused by someone holding him down. Some autopsy photos were shown to the jury yesterday but not to Mrs. Yates or anyone else in the courtroom.
Other medical examiners testified Thursday about John, 5, and Mary, 6 months.
Mrs. Yates is on trial only for those three deaths. Prosecutors have said she could be tried later for the deaths of the other two children, Paul, 3, and Luke, 2.
On Thursday, the jury heard a tape-recorded June 20 confession in which Mrs. Yates had only one question for a Houston police sergeant who questioned her.
"She wanted to know when her trial would be," Sgt. Eric Mehl testified.
On the tape, Mrs. Yates says she intended to suffocate the life from her children, and she details for Sgt. Mehl how she chased her oldest son, Noah, before forcing him into the same water she used to drown her four younger children.
"How long have you been having thoughts about wanting, or not wanting to, but drowning your children?" Sgt. Mehl asked during the interview.
"Probably since I realized I have not been a good mother to them," Mrs. Yates responded.
"What makes you say that?" the police officer asked.
"They weren't developing correctly," Mrs. Yates said.
She recounted the details of the deadly morning to Sgt. Mehl in a flat, monotone voice.

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