HOUSTON (AP) -- After less than an hour of deliberations, a jury
Andrea Yates from the death penalty Friday and sentenced the
housewife to life in prison for drowning her children in
Yates, 37, will have to serve at least 40 years before becoming
Yates stood while the verdict was read, her attorney's arm around
but had no apparent reaction.
The jury that took less than four hours to reject Yates' claim of
and convict her of murder Tuesday returned the sentence with
after prosecutors made a less-than-forceful push for
the death penalty.
Yates' five children ``never had a chance and you need to think about
children,'' prosecutor Kaylynn Williford said in closing
arguments of the
penalty phase. But avoiding a forceful call for
Yates' death, she said:
``Whatever decision you make, the state will
To impose the death penalty, the jury of eight women and four men
to decide unanimously that Yates was a future danger and that
no mitigating circumstances against executing her. The
jury answered no
to the first question and therefore did not have to
answer the second.
Yates' husband, Russell, had no reaction as he watched in the
His brother, Randy Yates, nodded affirmatively. Andrea
Yates' sister, sitting
across the courtroom, wiped tears from her
As Andrea Yates was led from the courtroom by officers, she looked
toward her mother and siblings.
The sentence brought a swift end to a case that began last June 20,
a wet and bedraggled Yates called police to her home and showed
bodies of her five children, age 6 months to 7 years. She
had called them
into the bathroom and drowned them one by one.
At trial, Yates' lawyers and her husband argued that she suffered
severe postpartum depression and that she had no choice but to
children to save them from the clutches of Satan.
Prosecutors acknowledged she was mentally ill, but that she could
right from wrong and was thus not legally insane at the time of
The case stirred new debate over the legal standard for mental
and whether postpartum depression is properly recognized and
Women's groups had harshly criticized prosecutors
for pushing for the death
Before the trial, prosecutors had offered to take the death penalty
the table in exchange for a guilty plea. After the jury rejected
claim that she was innocent by reason of insanity, prosecutors
no new evidence or witnesses during the penalty phase, saying
all the evidence
had been laid out during the trial.
Prosecutors in their closing arguments said Yates' life shouldn't be
important than the lives of her five children.
``It's not just about Andrea Yates,'' assistant district attorney
said, holding an exhibit with the photos of the five slain
about Noah, John, Paul, Luke and Mary.''
While Williford never directly told jurors punishment they should
for Yates, she said she thought they could answer the two
to them in a way that would result in death by
``This crime is the crime of ultimate betrayal: the ultimate betrayal
a mother to her children,'' Williford said. ``Those children never
Defense attorneys pleaded for Yates' life saying she isn't a future
and her mental illness, background and character speak volumes
she should receive a life term rather than death.
``You may believe that the defendant knew the wrongfulness of her
but that does not mean you don't believe she was mentally
lawyer Wendell Odom told jurors. ``She will live the
rest of her life knowing
what she's done.
``When it comes to punishment, there can be no greater punishment.''
Odom told jurors the state never presented an expert to testify
the brief punishment phase that Yates would be a future
danger. He said
Yates killed her children out of love, which
``mitigates against the death
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
``If you follow the law, you do the right thing,'' he said. ``If you
follow the law, a woman dies and we all have to live with