This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," January 6, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Could Andrea Yates (search) walk free after murdering her five children? An appeals court throws out her Texas convictions for the drownings of her children.
Joining us from Houston is the defense attorney who represented Yates in the murder trial, George Parnham. Welcome, George.
GEORGE PARNHAM, ANDREA YATES'S ATTORNEY: Hi, Greta. How are you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. George, so when you made the call to your client, Andrea Yates, what did she say when you told her the convictions had been reversed?
PARNHAM: Greta, she really didn't know what to say. She was in a room with the warden, the two psychiatrists that have taken care of her since she's been at Skyview. She had lots of questions, the answers to which I do not have until we have some decisions rendered by the district attorney's office as to the next approach on these very unfortunate cases, but obviously, a case that's very real, dealing with women's mental health (search).
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. When is the last time that you actually saw her, George? Because I want to know how she appeared to you.
PARNHAM: Good question. I saw her probably a month ago — I guess, perhaps three weeks ago. She is more lucid. She is very conversant. She is very aware of her present situation. She's very aware of what happened on June the 20th, 2001. She realizes the impact of mental illness, the severity of that. And you know, it's kind of a double-edged sword, Greta. Realization brings with it a certain depth of awareness and an appreciation that has a tendency to trigger another downslide into the spiral of mental health illness, and that's the situation that Andrea finds herself in.
VAN SUSTEREN: George, earlier today, you said that you were not going to seek bond for her. Now, is that her decision? I mean, that's a client's decision. I mean, maybe the rest of us don't want her out, but that's a decision a client makes. And tonight, she might want you to seek bond for her.
PARNHAM: First of all, it's not realistic that bond would be set, No. 1. But No. 2, I would never attempt — and she understands this, so do members of her family — to seek bond, to get her freed from incarceration and the psychiatric facility in which she finds herself at this time. She is too fragile to be moved from one environment to another. She has developed relationships of understanding with the doctors that care for her, for instance, even the warden and the prison guards, they've gone out of their way with their heads and hearts to care for this very fragile individual. And a change of circumstances would be absolutely unrealistic. It would not be a good thing for Andrea Yates, period.
VAN SUSTEREN: A question to you, George. What do you think of Dr. Park Dietz (search), whose testimony is the reason why the convictions were reversed?
PARNHAM: Well, I've made my views about Dr. Dietz and his testimony well-known in the past. And obviously, his testimony was erroneous, was false, and was the linchpin and the trigger for the reversal of this case.
VAN SUSTEREN: Was it deliberate or accidental?
PARNHAM: I think when you read the transcript and put it into the proper context, there can be a very logical rationale for that false testimony. And I think that it's there.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me get it because I'm not clear. Did he lie, or did he make a mistake?
PARNHAM: I don't think he made a mistake.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK.
PARNHAM: I don't think he was confused, period.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, George, thank you very much.
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us from Houston is the prosecutor representing the state of Texas against Andrea Yates in the court of appeals, Alan Curry. Welcome, Alan.
ALAN CURRY, HARRIS COUNTY ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Good evening.
VAN SUSTEREN: Alan, is it safe to say that you were not trial counsel, that you just came in to handle the appeal for the state, or did you have some part in the trial.
CURRY: I handled some of the legal issues at trial, but I'm pretty much only the appellate lawyer. That's correct.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Indulge me just a little bit, so that the viewers understand the case a little bit. In the court's decision today, what the court did say is, "We emphasize that the state's use of Dr. Dietz's false testimony was not prosecutorial misconduct." So in this whole dispute in the court of appeals has nothing to do with whether the prosecutors were good or bad, right?
CURRY: That's correct.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. What the court was concerned about was whether Park Dietz had said something that was then used in closing argument and that, in essence, misled the jury. Fair enough?
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you intend to take this case up to the next level of the court of appeals in Texas?
CURRY: Well, we don't intend to take it up yet. We hope to be able to get a reconsideration in the court that actually released the decision this morning. I mean, I intend on filing a motion for rehearing before all of the judges of that court. Barring that, we may pursue a petition for discretionary review to the Texas court of criminal appeals in Austin. But we're hoping we don't have to go that far.
VAN SUSTEREN: How much did the state of Texas pay Dr. Park Dietz to aid in the prosecution?
CURRY: I'm not positive about that. I've heard the six-figure salary thrown around, but I'm not positive of whether that's accurate or not, so...
VAN SUSTEREN: And six-figure meaning over a hundred thousand dollars?
VAN SUSTEREN: Have you spoken to Dr. Park Dietz since the decision came down today?
CURRY: He called the office this morning just to find out what the decision said and what it meant. But we didn't speak that long, so...
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did the state pick him?
CURRY: I do not know. I do not know. I mean, based on his testimony, it's clear that he's a renowned expert in the area of insanity and areas that would have been dealt with by the jury in this particular case. So it doesn't surprise me. But this certainly is a proper choice.
VAN SUSTEREN: When I say "you," I mean the state of Texas. Do you — as a prosecutor representing the state of Texas — do you care whether or not Andrea Yates spends the rest of her life in prison or the rest of her life in a mental hospital?
CURRY: Well, I would like, just as a human being, to see that she gets the treatment she needs. But as a prosecutor, as a representative for the state of Texas, we're forced with facing what the law is in Texas. And pretty much, the law requires, based upon our reading of what the facts are, that Andrea Yates knew what she did was wrong, based upon that, not being insane, she needs to be punished for the crimes that she's committed.
It's a tragic case. It's not one that we're, you know, happy about handling. It's not one that we feel good about taking care of. But it is something that we're required to handle as being the prosecutors in Harris County, since the crime occurred here.
VAN SUSTEREN: In the event that this does end up back in the trial court for a retrial on the three murders, you've still got those two other murders that were not tried. Are those eligible for the death penalty?
CURRY: Well, that's going to be an interesting issue. Collateral estoppel (search) is going to be a major issue that would have to be dealt with in that. I don't know that we're even down that road at this point, whether or not we're considering, you know, what we're going to do on a retrial or how we're going to proceed with the case. But I would appreciate — you know, Mr. McKinney's already talked about that collateral estoppel is going to be a major argument they're going to be able to raise in that instance, even if we try the case based on the children that haven't been the basis of an indictment yet.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Alan. Thank you very much for joining us. We'll be watching your petition for a rehearing in the court of appeals, and we'll continue to follow it.
Thank you, sir.
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