HOUSTON – A judge Wednesday cleared the way for the second trial of Andrea Yates on murder charges in the 2001 drowning of her children in the family bathtub.
State District Judge Belinda Hill ruled that a defense motion accusing prosecutors of misconduct during the first trial was frivolous. The retrial is set to begin March 20.
Yates, 41, was convicted of capital murder in 2002, but the conviction was overturned because a forensic psychiatrist gave false testimony when he said an episode of television's "Law & Order" about a woman with postpartum depression drowning her children was aired shortly before the five Yates children died; the episode didn't exist.
Yates' attorney, George Parnham, on Monday rejected a plea offer from prosecutors that would have allowed her to plead guilty or no contest to a lesser charge of murder and serve 35 years in prison. The offer will remain on the table until March 10, prosecutors said.
Yates has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity, as she did the first time around.
During her first trial, psychiatrists testified Yates suffered from schizophrenia and postpartum depression, but expert witnesses disagreed over the severity of her illness and whether it prevented her from knowing that drowning her children was wrong.
Hill ruled earlier that Yates' attorney failed to prove any prosecutorial misconduct in the first trial. The defense had sought to prove misconduct and argue it would mean double jeopardy for Yates.
The Wednesday ruling was focused on whether a retrial should proceed as scheduled in the event Parnham appealed the rejection of his double jeopardy claim.