Yates Attorney Says He'll Present Insanity Defense if Case is Retried

Andrea Yates' attorney says he will mount an insanity defense for his client if she is retried for the 2001 drowning deaths of her five children.

Texas' highest court upheld Wednesday the reversal of Yates' murder convictions, opening the door for a new trial or plea bargain. Attorney George Parnham told "Good Morning America" today he would "absolutely, definitely" use the insanity defense again.

"Andrea Yates, as hard as it is to understand, loved those children," he said. He said like to avoid a new trial because it would be "torture" for Yates to go through all the evidence again.

In 2001, Yates admitted to drowning her five children, ages 7 to 6 months old, in the bathtub in the family's home in suburban Houston. She is serving a life sentence at the Skyview psychiatric prison, about 140 miles north of Houston, where she works in the flower garden and has janitorial duties. Yates had been diagnosed as suffering from severe postpartum depression after the birth of her fifth child and prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

Fve experts testified that Yates should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. But the prosecution's star witness, Dr. Park Dietz, said she knew right from wrong when she drowned her children. He told the jury Yates had patterned the killings on an episode from the television drama "Law & Order," for which he worked as a consultant. However, defense lawyers later discovered the episode never existed.

"I made an honest mistake about the television show during cross-examination," Dietz told "GMA" on Jan. 7, 2005. "And a week later I learned that I might be mistaken."

A lower level appeals court in Houston ruled in January that Dietz's erroneous testimony could have swayed jurors who otherwise might have found Yates was insane. This was the decision upheld in Wednesday's ruling from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Yates' attorney said he wants to try to get Yates out of a prison setting.

"I would welcome that opportunity to get her into a facility that is non-penitentiary -- not behind bars -- but can address her mental health needs," he said.

Harris County Assistant District Attorney Alan Curry said if the case goes back to trial, he is confident Yates will be convicted again.

"Andrea Yates knew precisely what she was doing," Curry said. "She knew that it was wrong."

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