Despite 'Not Guilty' Verdict, Doctor Who Examined Yates Is Unconvinced

One day after a Texas jury found Andrea Yates not guilty of murder by reason of insanity, a psychiatrist who examined her tells ABC News he's still not convinced.

Forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner interviewed Yates for fourteen hours last May, roughly five years after she drowned her five children in the family bathtub. Welner says he has over sixty reasons why he believes Yates knew her actions were wrong, and he released that list exclusively to the ABC News Law & Justice Unit. Welner, the New York-based chairman of The Forensic Panel,, was a key witness for the prosecution.

Under Texas criminal law, the standard for finding someone not guilty by reason of insanity is whether the person could tell right from wrong at the time of the offense.

Welner's list includes the fact that Yates called the police just after drowning her children because, she said, "the police is who you call when you've done something wrong." She also anticipated that she would be tried and punished for what she had done.

Although Welner believes Yates knew well enough to distinguish right from wrong, he doesn't dispute the fact that she was suffering from severe mental illness. Yates' post-partum depression and long history of psychotic episodes were at the heart of the trial.

Dr. Lucy Puryear, a psychiatrist and witness for the defense, told ABC News, "post-partum psychosis occurs again and again -- and each episode is usually worse than the last."

She also said that Yates' mental state at the time of the drownings "was about as bad as it gets."

In a video of the interviews with Welner released exclusively to ABC News, Andrea Yates says she thought about drowning the children because, otherwise, they "would not grow up to be righteous...that they were not heaven-bound." Specifically, she talks about visions of them turning out to be serial killers and homosexuals. They were headed for such a fate, Yates believed, because she had been a bad mother.

Yates also describes herself in the interviews as "the most hated woman in the world."

Whatever your opinion on the case, Welner's list offers a look into the mind of Andrea Yates and the crime she committed.

Welner is also developing a test called the depravity scale,, in which Americans can answer a questionnaire or two to set a legal standard to see what constitutes depravity.


1. Called police almost immediately after drowning the last child.

2. Resisted 911 efforts to coax her into explaining what happened, as if ashamed.

3. Called Rusty and told him to come home immediately without explaining why it was urgent.

4. Recognized need for police involvement because "the police is who you call when you've done something wrong."

5. Called the police after drowning the children because mother-in-law Dora Yates was about to come over.

6. Expressed profound guilt the next day -- despite the fact that she was getting even sicker.

7. Thought she needed to be punished for having done something wrong.

8. Said she didn't want to be the one to tell Rusty.

9. No confusion or protest with being taken into custody.

10. Anticipated being punished by criminal justice system.

11. After drowning her children, asked when her trial would be.

12. Said in the immediate aftermath she was prepared to go to hell for what she had done.

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