Tags: Jury | Finds | Yates | Competent | Stand | Trial

Jury Finds Yates Competent to Stand Trial

Saturday, 22 September 2001 12:00 AM

Yates has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and another jury will hear the criminal case in a separate trial scheduled at a later date. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.

In the competency hearing, the jury of 11 women and one man deliberated nearly nine hours Friday and Saturday before reaching their decision. Their assignment was to decide if the 37-year-old Houston mother understood the charges and could assist her lawyers.

State District Judge Belinda Hill has imposed a gag order on lawyers and other parties in the case so they were not expected to discuss the jury's decision with reporters.

If the jurors had found Yates incompetent, they could have recommended that she be committed to mental treatment until she was able to stand trial or for a longer, indefinite term that would have been subject to period reviews by the court and psychologists.

During the three days, the jurors heard psychologists and other mental health professionals who offered conflicting views of her mental health. Her husband, Russell, and her lawyers say she was suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis at the time her children were drowned.

Medical records state she was treated for major depression with psychosis off and on over a two-year period before the slaying of the children June 20 in the family's bathtub.

Dr. Steven Rubenzer, a court-appointed psychologist who testified for the state, said Thursday that Yates passed two out of three sections of a mental competency test he administered to her in July. He said she has improved since then and was now competent to stand trial.

A defense witness, Dr. Gerald Harris, agreed that she had improved under treatment since her arrest June 20, but he said she was not competent now to stand trial. He said she could be fully competent within one to two months.

Yates has been jailed since June 20 when she called police to her home in Clear Lake and told an officer she had drowned her five children: Noah, 7; John, 5; Paul 3, Luke, 2, and Mary, 6 months. She later pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

In the competency hearing, the jurors determined her mental state at the present time. In the criminal trial, another jury will determine if she was insane at the time of the crime.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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Yates has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and another jury will hear the criminal case in a separate trial scheduled at a later date. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty. In the competency hearing, the jury of 11 women and one man deliberated nearly...
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2001-00-22
Saturday, 22 September 2001 12:00 AM
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