- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2002

HOUSTON (AP) On the day of Andrea Yates' formal sentencing in the drownings of her five children, some relatives accused Russell Yates of not doing enough to assess his wife's mental illness.
The comments came in a group interview with Houston television station KTRK that was also aired on ABC's "Good Morning, America" yesterday.
Brian Kennedy, a brother of Andrea Yates, called Russell Yates an "unemotional" husband inattentive to his sister's needs.
Andrea Yates' mother, Jutta Karin Kennedy, said her son-in-law told her after the birth of their fourth child that he had never changed a diaper.
"I think that any man and woman whose spouse was that severely down, confused that sick that I would do whatever it would take to make sure my other half would get the help that was necessary," Brian Kennedy said.
Asked about criticism of his role, Mr. Yates told NBC's "Today" show yesterday that some people "don't understand the biochemical nature of Andrea's illness … so they'll say there must have been something else going on in that household, or there must have been this or that, and it's all false."
Meanwhile yesterday, in a legal formality after the jury refused Friday to approve a death sentence for Yates, a judge formally sentenced her to life in prison.
Yates, clad in an orange Harris County jumpsuit instead of the civilian clothes she wore during her four-week trial, was fingerprinted in the courtroom. She looked into the gallery, but her only close supporters were jail psychiatrists Melissa Ferguson and Debbie Osterman.
Defense attorney George Parnham requested that she be kept at the Harris County Jail for as long as possible to continue receiving medical care.
"Good luck to you, Mrs. Yates," state District Judge Belinda Hill said as she dismissed the 37-year-old homemaker, who will be eligible for parole in 2041. When Yates arrives in the Texas prison system, she will join 69 other women serving time for killing one or more of their children.
Yates was convicted of capital murder last week in the June 20 attack on her children after a jury rejected her insanity defense. The same jury took less than an hour Friday to reject death by injection, meaning yesterday's life sentence was automatic.
Several of the jurors who voted to convict Andrea Yates of capital murder last week said the way she drowned her children in the family bathtub seemed premeditated and methodical.
In television interviews, the jurors described their decision to find Yates guilty in the deaths of three of the five children and to recommend that she be sentenced to life in prison.
Juror Leona Baker told CBS' "The Early Show" that a "couple" of jurors initially voted for death; then the jury discussed it and became unanimous on the life sentence.
"I believed that she was not going to be a threat to society being in prison for the next 40 years of her life," she said.
On the "Today" show, juror Melissa Ryan said, "I think she should be punished for what she did, considering she did know right from wrong, and I think prison's the way to go."
A juror identified on NBC's "Dateline" as Jill, a social worker, said as Yates explained to police how she drowned the children, it seemed as if she was "thinking pretty clearly."
One of the jurors pointed to Yates' decision the night before to drown the children and the organized manner in which she went about holding each child beneath the water's surface before calling in the next one.


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