Thursday, January 06, 2005


Psychiatrist deluded at Andrea Yates' trial

Remember Andrea Yates, the Texas woman who drowned her children in the bathtub? The defense said she was suffering from postpartum depression. The prosecution said she'd been watching too much TV—specifically, the series Law & Order.

The prosecution featured the testimony of Dr. Park Dietz. According to Ruth Rendon of the Houston Chronicle

Dietz ... told the jury he had served as a consultant on an episode of the television drama Law & Order in which a woman drowned her children in the bathtub and was judged insane. He testified the show aired shortly before Yates drowned her five young children.

Well, it turns out no such show was ever produced. Apparently the fact was discovered during jury deliberations and "both sides agreed to tell jurors that Dietz had erred in his testimony and to disregard that portion of his account." A Texas appellate court has decided that wasn't good enough, reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial.

Dietz later said he had confused the show with others and wrote a letter to prosecutors, saying, "I do not believe that watching Law & Order played any causal role in Mrs. Yates' drowning of her children."

The defense attorney is said to be "stunned," not by the delusional psychiatrist but by the reversal.

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