As Rusty Yates waited for the jury to return with news of his wife's fate, another man remembered his own similar nightmare.
David Smith is the ex-husband of convicted killer Susan Smith, who in October 1994 drowned their two young sons by buckling them into their car seats and rolling the car into a lake.
The mother of two was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. After police charged his then-wife in the children's deaths, David Smith was in a lot of turmoil — an emotional state he thinks Rusty Yates now shares.
"Most of my concentration — even worry to some degree — has been on what he's going to have to go through," Smith said on Good Morning America.
Smith said that he personally felt bombarded all at once by strong emotions of hate, anger and depression. Smith would like to speak to Rusty Yates, but said he'll leave the ball in his court.
It took a Houston jury less than four hours Tuesday to find Andrea Yates guilty of capital murder, rejecting the defense argument that she was insane at the time of the killings.
Now, Andrea Yates will go to prison instead of a mental institution, and she even faces the possibility of execution. After hearing the verdict, Russell Yates muttered, "Oh God," as he buried his head in his hands.
The two men, Smith and Yates, have had quite different attitudes toward their wives after their arrests. Yates has been publicly supportive and sympathetic toward his wife, contending that she is mentally ill. David Smith — who was divorcing Susan Smith before the killings occurred — wanted his wife to receive the death penalty for killing their sons, Michael, 3, and Alex, 1. Now, he says, he has let the hatred for his wife subside so it wouldn't take over his life. "For me, I had to close that chapter and move on," he said.
Smith's feelings have not budged in regard to his ex-wife's punishment: when she is up for parole in 2023 Smith plans to protest her release. However, he said Rusty Yates should be entitled to feel however he wants about his wife. "After losing his five children — if he wants to support his wife, then I say so be it," Smith said.
Like other Americans, David Smith did not immediately realize that his wife had killed the children. Initially he believed her story that a black man had carjacked her car and abducted the children. He appeared at Susan Smith's side at her media appearances, not realizing she had conjured up the carjacking story to deflect attention from her own guilt.
For nine days, Americans joined in the search for the boys, until police announced that they believed it was Susan Smith who sent the boys to their deaths.
How the Cases Differ
Rusty Yates knew that his wife had signs of depression and mental illness. Although Susan Smith was never in counseling or on antidepressants, David Smith says his ex-wife must have had problems. "I mean, even with Susan, I know there was something wrong — something has to be wrong for you to do something like that, to commit an act like that," he said
David Smith now has a 15-month-old daughter, Savannah, with his girlfriend. He dreads the day that he has to tell her about what happened to the children who would have been her half-siblings.