HOUSTON – A videotaped jail interview played for jurors Monday showed Andrea Yates weeping after she told a psychiatrist why she drowned her five children in a bathtub.
"In their innocence, I thought they would go to heaven," Yates told Dr. Lucy Puryear about five weeks after the June 20, 2001, drownings. "I just — since they were so young," she stammered before trailing off and starting to cry.
Puryear, an expert on reproductive-related psychiatric disorders, was called by the defense at Yates' murder trial.
Yates has again pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. If the jury agrees, she could be committed to a state hospital, with periodic hearings to determine whether she should be released. A guilty verdict would mean life in prison. An appeals court overturned her 2002 conviction because erroneous testimony might have influenced the jury.
Her attorneys say Yates suffered from severe postpartum psychosis and did not know that killing 6-month-old Mary, 2-year-old Luke, 3-year-old Paul, 5-year-old John and 7-year-old Noah was wrong.
Court ended at midday Monday because of a scheduling conflict. Testimony resumes Tuesday. Defense attorneys had said they planned to wrap up their case this week.
On Friday, Dr. George Ringholz, a neuropsychologist who evaluated Yates about six months after the children were drowned, told jurors that Yates was suffering from a delusion and thought killing the children was right.
Yates' attorney Wendell Odom said Friday he is not sure whether the defense or state will call Rusty Yates, who divorced Andrea Yates last year and remarried in March.
Rusty Yates, who was sworn in as a witness before the trial began, has repeatedly said he believes Andrea Yates was insane at the time of the killings, and he testified for the defense at the first trial. If the defense calls him this time, it may wait until the rebuttal phase.
Prosecutors say Andrea Yates may be mentally ill but did not meet the state's definition of insanity, because she called 911 to report the crime and later told a detective that she killed the youngsters because she was a bad mother and wanted to be punished.
After the defense rests its case, prosecutors will begin their rebuttal phase.