Tags: Yates | Children's | Pajamas | Shown | Trial

Yates Children's Pajamas Shown at Trial

Tuesday, 19 February 2002 12:00 AM

When prosecutor Joe Owmby moved to introduce the children's clothing to show their size compared to their mother, defense attorney George Parnham strongly objected to State District Judge Belinda Hill, charging the move was inflammatory.

"The state is intending to inflame and prejudice the jury with this issue," he said, after the jurors were excused from the courtroom. "The issue is to determine the mental status of Andrea Pea Yates. Introducing the pajamas is prejudicial."

Hill rejected Parnham's arguments and admitted the pajamas, which were each displayed on a panel with the name of the child wearing them. Parnham then objected to the names being attached to each panel and the judge had them removed.

Owmby, the prosecutor, then asked the witness, Sgt. David Svahan, who was one of the first officers at the scene, to identify for the jury the pajamas worn by each of the victims: Noah, 7; John, 5; Paul, 3; Luke, 2; and Mary, 6 months.

Mrs. Yates, who admitted to police she killed the children, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. If convicted, she could receive a life prison term or the death penalty.

Earlier during Svahan's testimony, another argument broke out over his recollection of comments made by Russell Yates on June 20, 2001, when he arrived home and found out his children dead. Parnham called it hearsay, but the judge admitted the testimony.

Svahan said Yates told him his wife had called him at Johnson Space Center, where he works as a NASA engineer, and told him to come home right away.

Svahan said Yates told him his wife said: "I hurt all five of the kids. I finally did it."

When Yates arrived home he was not allowed inside, where his wife was being held, but he yelled at her through a window, asking her what she had done, Svahan said. When he was informed what had happened, he fell to the ground in tears and threw a lawn chair, the officer recalled.

Prosecutors admit that Mrs. Yates was mentally ill, but they are attempting to prove that she was sane enough to plan the crime for two years, wait until her husband had gone to work, and then call police to their home after she had killed the children.

Mrs. Yates' defense attorneys claim she was suffering from a severe case of postpartum psychosis and was not on her medication the day of the crime. To prove she was legally insane, they must show she did not know that what she did was wrong.

If she is found innocent by reason of insanity, the judge would probably send her to a secure mental hospital for a term to be determined at a later date.

She was indicted on two charges of capital murder that are eligible for the death penalty under Texas law. One was for killing more than one person, Noah and John, and the second for killing a child under age 6, Mary. Prosecutors could file charges later in the other two deaths, Paul and Luke.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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When prosecutor Joe Owmby moved to introduce the children's clothing to show their size compared to their mother, defense attorney George Parnham strongly objected to State District Judge Belinda Hill, charging the move was inflammatory. The state is intending to inflame...
Yates,Children's,Pajamas,Shown,Trial
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2002-00-19
Tuesday, 19 February 2002 12:00 AM
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