Jury to choose between jail and death for Yates

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The Independent US

The Texas jury that convicted Andrea Yates of capital murder for drowning her children in the family bathtub will begin hearing testimony today to decide whether to sentence the mentally ill suburban housewife to life imprisonment or death by lethal injection.

The jury of eight women and four men took less than four hours to reach their guilty verdict on Tuesday afternoon, despite the complexity of the case and the overwhelming evidence that Yates, 37, had a long history of post-partum depression and psychotic breakdown.

Both the defence and many of the psychiatric experts who testified at the trial expressed amazement that the jury did not side with Yates' plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Instead, they agreed with the prosecution that, for all her mental problems, the mother still knew right from wrong when she killed her five children, aged six months to seven years, on 20 June last year.

The district attorney's office in Houston has sought the death penalty from the beginning. Legal experts believe that a death sentence in this case, with all its mitigating circumstances, would be likely to be overturned on appeal.