Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Three faces of Andrea Yates

The irony in the acquittal of accused murderer Andrea Yates is that the state's own expert witness made it possible.

Park Dietz misspoke -- or completely fabricated -- a tale that led the jury in Yates' first trial to believe she got the idea to drown her kids from a TV show.

That led to the second trial and the decision by a different jury that Yates was not guilty by reason of insanity.

I took photos of Yates' expressions off the CourtTV coverage of the verdict.

Different people will read different stories in her face.

Me, I see a woman who's completely bewildered.

Others will swear they see a woman laughing the the system. She got away with it.

I wrote about this once but I'll repeat it. I was in Wal-Mart late one night, approaching the checker to pay for my goods. Two checkers, with no customers to serve, were locked in earnest conversation about some other woman. Their language was harsh and blunt, so I said cheerfully, "Who're ya'll talking about?"

I expected them to say something about Lulu in the produce department who was cheating on her husband, or somesuch, but no, they were talking about Andrea Yates what a horrible, evil person she was.

The hope was expressed that she be put to death in some fashion that would be more cruel that the drowning deaths of her five children.

That was more than a year ago, long after the first Yates trial and long before the second trial.

It rather shocked me, because from the begining, it seemed clear to me this was one sick woman. One very sick woman. Who didn't know what she was doing or why she was doing it but that it had to be done.

Why can't others see that?

Tonight, hours after the not guilty verdict, I checked the Grits For Breakfast blog, where Galveston state District Judge Susan Criss, a critic of the criminal justice system's handling of the mentally ill, is guest blogging this week.

She filed a post, but it was before the verdict came in. Still, she rightly reminded everyone of the state Legislature's failure in the whole mental health field.

"What frightens me the most is knowing how many other severely mentally ill persons there are in Texas who are not getting treatment. The Texas legislature has consistently cut funding to MHMR resulting in eliminating treatment options for thousands of mentally ill Texans. There are countless other tragedies of the magnitude of this case that could be prevented but will not be," she wrote.

(If you wonder where a lot of these untreated mentally ill people are, walk around downtown Houston for an hour or so and you'll get an idea.)

Predictably, Judge's Criss's words drew a strong rebuke from one commenter, who sneered, "The fact that she hid her murderous intent from everyone, including her victims, proves she knew what she was doing was wrong. Crafting the deceit in advance proves premeditation.

No illness caused her crime, and no illness frees her of blame."

But I like what the next guy wrote:
"That our system of law has codified mercy for the non compos mentis, is a refinement of piety, even if it leads to perverse results. Such as murderers not being punished for their crimes.

Mercy for the guilty is the main Christological theme. Consider the thief next to the crucified Christ, whose expiation amounted to a sprinkling of sincere words.

To assume that the exculpation of Yates would preclude any ultimate punishment or moral reckoning, expresses atheism at best and nihilism at worst."

Andrea Yates, it's worth noting, wasn't indigent and received some mental health care, but even she fell into the abyss, taking her five kids with her. So it's a tricky business, treating the mentally ill, and it apparently is even trickier trying to explain the mentally ill to a jury.

Thank God for incompetent shrinks like Park Dietz. Without him, there wouldn't have been any justice in the Andrea Yates case.


Perry Dorrell, aka PDiddie said...

Thanks for the sanity, Banjo.

Leigh said...

Bravo, Banjo.

Anonymous said...

The woman drowned (killed) her children! Insanity? That's bullshit. The system didn't fail, or help, Yates. It merely facilitated an "Out" for this loser. There are thousands of housewives with several kids going through Hell, but they don't drown their babies. That you can pick one broad out of the murder pack and say she was nuts is absurd! Yates deserves to die! You know it and God knows it. She snuffed her kids' life. You could perhaps excuse one drowning, but not 5! It takes some thinking to off one, then another, and another. Andrea Yates will come back from the afterlife as a Black woman and, presumably, get real justice. Banjo, you're jaded.

Anonymous said...

thank you for saying what I have not found the eloquence to say myself.