Thursday, January 06, 2005

Who's crazy now?

Maybe Dr. Park Dietz is off his rocker.

He was the lone expert witness for the state in prosecuting Andrea Yates for murder in the drowning deaths of her 5 young children. Without him, a jury very likely would not have found her guilty.

He told jurors Yates watched an episode of "Law and Order," a TV drama for which he was a consultant, whose plot contained events that presaged what happened to the Yates kids.

Well, there was no such episode, causing Yates' conviction to be overturned today, making the Harris County District Attorney's Office look inept and leading Dr. Dietz, who testifies all over the country for prosecutors, to appear to be a very confused shrink.

Lawyers always are supposed to know what their own witnesses are going to say in court before they take the oath. By presenting them as "their" witnesses, they're vouching for them. Sometimes witnesses deviate from the script. Sometimes they're not adequately prepared. Whatever the case in the Yates trial, the state's case went kablooey.

Was the bogus "Law and Order" testimony a small matter?


Andrea Yates' defense attorney had four expert witnesses from the mental health field who told jurors the defendant was insane, which in Texas means she didn't know right from wrong, when she ended her kids' lives.

Before the deaths, Yates voluntarily submitted herself to the care and control of the mental health system. She was put on, then taken off, medication that initially was effective. She was admitted to a mental hospital, then removed, when insurance problems arose. She had tried to commit suicide twice. Her incompetent husband was told that she shouldn't be left home alone with the little ones. Not only that, but Rusty Yates was told the couple should NOT have any more kids, given Mrs. Yates' precarious mental health, but they had two more anyway.

Hell-OOO? Rusty? Anyone home?

But when the defense "experts" were asked at the trial if they might "reconsider" their expert opinions regarding Mrs. Yates' insanity had they had known about the nonexistent "Law and Order," they said yes, that would make them rethink the question.

One can only hope that prosecutor Joe Owmby did not feel compelled to press the "Law and Order" line of questioning because he so very much wanted to win a conviction in order to "send a message" that it's wrong to kill your own children. Hell-OOOO? Joe? Everyone knows that -- unless they're INSANE!

It's always mystified us how Yates' insanity could be held in such contempt by so much of the general public.

Not long ago, when the Yates case wasn't even in the news, I walked up to the checkout counter at Wal-Mart late one night and found two idle checkers talking earnestly and passionately about someone who apparently had done something to get both of them real worked up.

Plopping my gallon of milk on the country, I said, "Who're ya'll talking about?"

"That woman who killed her 5 kids," said one.

"Oh, yeah, Andrea Yates," I said, surprised.

"I think she should suffer every bit as much as she made those innocent children suffer," said the other.

I walked out thinking, "She is suffering ladies, but the real suffering will begin if and when she is able to fully comprehend the horrible thing she did."

It's tricky business, figuring out if someone who's been diagnosed as mentally ill knows right from wrong.

If Andrea Yates called 911 after the killings and waited til her lame husband went to work at NASA before she killed her kids, does that mean she KNEW she was about to commit a horrible wrong?

Or did she just know, somehow, that when someone gets killed, you call 911, and that she should wait til Rusty leaves the house before she deviates from the norm of another day of home-schooling 5 kids? Who knows?

Maybe she knew those things, but maybe she also knew that God was telling her that she needed to send her kids to heaven now cause Satan was after them.

If you're a believer in the Bible, and a studier of the Bible, and raised to believe in some of the things that fundamentalists believe, when God starts talking to you, you listen up.

Sounds to me like this woman, who had led an exemplary life as a cancer ward nurse and took care of her dad when he had Alzheimers before deciding to marry a guy who at one stage decided to move his whole family into a school bus and roam around the country for awhile, was mentally ill and belongs in a psychiatric setting, not a run-of-the-mill prison.

I mean, you've gotta be pretty crazy to kill your own children, right?
As for Dr. Park Diez, he needs TIVO.

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