Prosecutors Mull Case Against Russell Yates

ByABC News

March 15, 2002 -- Prosecutors will weigh a number of factors that may lead them to prosecute Andrea Yates' husband Russell for either child endangerment or negligent homicide, ABCNEWS has learned.

No decision has been made, but it is being seriously considered, sources said. Prosecutors would charge Russell Yates if and when the evidence warrants, but do not have the evidence now, sources said.

Andrea Yates, 37, was convicted Tuesday of two capital murder charges filed in the killings of her children last June. Her jury ruled today she should be sentenced to life in prison. She will be formally sentenced Monday.

Her attorneys presented an insanity defense, contending it was severe psychosis from postpartum depression that drove her to drown 7-year-old Noah, 5-year-old John, 3-year-old Paul, 2-year-old Luke and 6-month-old Mary.

A psychiatrist who interviewed Andrea Yates in jail said she believed she had been marked by Satan and that killing her children was the only way to save them from hell.

Russell Yates testified at his wife's trial that she never told him about the voices and visions she later claimed led her to drown their five children.

"She kind of described it as a dark period, that she was in a dark place," he told jurors in February, referring to his wife's two suicide attempts two years before the June 20 slayings. He earlier described his wife as a loving mother whose mental problems worsened in the months before the drownings.

He said Andrea Yates suffered from severe postpartum depression following the birth of their fourth child and was under the care of a psychiatrist following the suicide attempts. She soon became pregnant with Mary, who was born in November 2000. Russell Yates testified her depression returned and grew worse after the death of her father last March.

Russell Yates Blamed HMO and Doctors

He said his wife was treated by Dr. Mohammed Saeed, a psychiatrist, but didn't seem to improve. Russell Yates said he and his wife returned for treatment June 18, but the doctor didn't put her back on an anti-psychotic drug and changed her prescription. She killed the children two days later.

Today, Russell Yates blamed his HMO insurance and doctors for his wife's actions.

"How could she have been so ill and the medical community not diagnose her, not treat her, not protect our family from her?" he asked. "I would never have taken Andrea to the doctor and hospital that I took her to ... They miserably failed us."

He also said he was considering filing a lawsuit against some of her doctors, but he did not elaborate.

Yates has come in for criticism for not doing more for his wife. She home-schooled all their children, and had little time to herself, and one friend testified in the trial that she tried to get Russell to do more, but he didn't.

Russell Yates said the tragedy happened because no one recognized the severity of his wife's illness.

"She never told me that she had any thoughts of harming the children before," he said. "You know, if she just said anything about that we may have decided not to have any more children."

He said he believes he took precautions to keep his family safe, and most regrets his actions regarding his wife's medical treatment.

gif" width=10 height=10>ABCNEWS' Ellen Davis and Mike von Fremd contributed to this report.

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