Yates: I'm Saving My Kids From Hell

ByABC News
June 14, 2002, 6:33 PM

June 14 -- One month after Andrea Yates drowned her five children in a bathtub, the Houston mother sat with a defense psychiatrist and offered her own accounting of that tragic day.

"Did you want to hurt the children?" Dr. Lucy Puryear asked in a videotaped session.

"No," Yates said.

"No? You tried very hard not to?" the psychiatrist asked.

Heavily medicated by anti-psychotic drugs, Yates just nodded.

The tape was seen by the jury that convicted Yates in March of murdering her children. The 37-year-old woman was sentenced to life in prison. Media organizations sought public release of the tape, which a judge made available today.

On the tape, Yates is dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit as she sits and slowly answers the questions posed to her.

"And then Luke was born and that was when you started having frightening thoughts and feelings again? Do you remember what they were?" Puryear asked. A long pause followed.

In an interview, Puryear said Yates may seem ill on the tape but she was actually much improved.

"The first time I saw her I probably spent about 12 minutes with her," the doctor said. "She was sitting in a very small interview room shaking with absolutely no facial expression and almost mute."

But even in her confused state, Yates was clear about her motivation killing her children was an attempt to save them from going to hell.

Puryear: "What did you think would happen to the children when they were killed? What did you think would happen?"

Yates: "In their innocence, they'd go to heaven."

Puryear: "They'd go to heaven?"

Yates: "Yeah."

Puryear: "You were worried about them going to hell?"

Yates: (Nods).

Puryear: "You thought that was a possibility?"

Yates: "I just thought since they were so young (cries)."

Prosecutors agreed with the defense that Yates was mentally ill but the legal standard in Texas is: Did she know right from wrong? This tape suggests she did.