HOUSTON – In a videotaped interview with a forensic psychiatrist after drowning her children in a bathtub, a wide-eyed Andrea Yates sat in an orange jumpsuit and explained: "They didn't do things God likes."
When asked how she felt about them, she said, "I didn't hate my children." And when he asked if she loved them, she responded, "Yes. Not in the right way, though."
Part of the July 14, 2001 interview with Dr. Phillip Resnick was played for jurors Tuesday at Yates' second murder trial. Resnick, who began testifying in the defense's rebuttal phase after the prosecution rested its case Tuesday, is expected to continue his testimony on Wednesday.
Resnick testified Yates did not show remorse then because she was too psychotic and still thought that killing the children was in their best interest. But when he evaluated her four months later, she had been taking anti-psychotic medication and realized she had "needlessly taken her children's lives ... so it was a very different picture," he said.
Yates, 42, was convicted of capital murder in 2002, but the conviction was overturned by an appeals court that said erroneous testimony may have influenced jurors.
If convicted, Yates would be sentenced to life in prison. If the jury sides with her plea of innocent by reason of insanity, she could be committed to a state hospital.
Her attorneys argue that she suffered from severe postpartum psychosis and meets Texas' definition of insanity: That because of a severe mental illness she does not know while committing a crime that it is wrong.
Earlier Tuesday, the prosecution's final rebuttal witness, Dr. Michael Welner, testified that Yates killed her children because she was overwhelmed and felt inadequate as a mother, not because of any altruistic or religious motive.
"In my professional opinion, Andrea Yates drowned her children to help herself, not to help her children," Welner said.
He said Yates had become detached from 6-month-old Mary, 2-year-old Luke, 3-year-old Paul, 5-year-old John and 7-year-old Noah in the weeks before the June 20, 2001 drownings and showed no remorse.
No symbols were found at the scene that would suggest a religious motive, and when Yates initially told police she killed the children, she didn't say that she sent them to heaven or was trying to save them from hell, as she later told a jail psychiatrist.
Under cross-examination, Welner said that Yates, who remains on anti-psychotic medication, was not faking her mental illness. He also acknowledged that some things Yates did after the drownings, such as calling 911 and going to jail willingly, could be evidence that she knew she would be punished, not necessarily that she knew what she did was wrong.