Jury Sequestered in Andrea Yates Trial

Jurors in Andrea Yates' second murder trial in her children's bathtub drowning deaths deliberated for nearly three hours Monday before being sequestered for the night.

After four hours of closing arguments, the jury began to sort through almost a month of evidence and testimony from 40 witnesses, trying to determine whether Yates knew killing the children was wrong.

During her closing, prosecutor Kaylynn Williford brought out the pajamas the children were wearing when they died. She also displayed the crime scene photos showing the four youngest children laid on a bed and 7-year-old Noah, who was killed last, floating face down in the bathtub.

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"Is that the act of a loving mother? Were there words of comfort? Were there prayers? They didn't want to die," Williford said. "The legacy of this case should be that you will hold her accountable for the deaths of these children ... because she is criminally responsible."

The children's father stood and walked from the courtroom as Williford described Noah's intense struggle in the water and showed a close-up photo of his face after he was removed from the tub.

Rusty Yates, who has said he still supports Andrea and does not want her to be convicted, divorced her last year and remarried in March.

Andrea Yates started to cry after the crime scene photos were shown, but at other times looked down at the defense table without showing emotion.

Defense attorney Wendell Odom said Yates meets the state's definition of insanity: that a severe mental illness prevents someone who is committing a crime from knowing it is wrong.

Odom said that Yates was delusional when she killed Noah and 6-month-old Mary, 2-year-old Luke, 3-year-old Paul and 5-year-old John in June 2001. Yates thought the children were flawed because she was a bad mother and because Satan was inside her, and said she had to kill them to save them from hell, he said.

Odom noted Yates' long history of mental illness, including four hospitalizations since 1999 and two suicide attempts. He compared her case to a driver having a heart attack and running someone over, saying that person would not be charged with murder.

"Andrea Yates had a heart attack. It was a heart attack of the mind," Odom said. "The only reason we're here is there are five dead bodies, five precious children that have been killed. ... We want our pound of flesh. We want our accountability. We want someone to be punished."

Yates, 42, was convicted of capital murder in 2002 and sentenced to life in prison. But an appeals court overturned that verdict last year because some erroneous testimony may have influenced jurors.

Yates is charged in only three of the children's deaths, which is not unusual in multiple slayings. She has again pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutor Joe Owmby said Yates behaved normally with her husband the morning she drowned the youngsters so he would not suspect what she planned to do after he left for work at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

Owmby said Yates, who was valedictorian of her high school class and a successful nurse before she quit to have children, was a perfectionist who felt she failed as a mother.

"Of course it's not sane behavior. It's criminal behavior," Owmby said. "It's not cruel in any regards to hold Andrea Yates accountable for what she did."

If acquitted by reason of insanity, Yates would be committed to a state mental hospital. She will be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of capital murder.