10 years after drowning children, Andrea Yates may be ready for release



KHOU 11 News

Posted on June 20, 2011 at 3:12 PM

HOUSTON—Ten years ago from Monday, Houston mother Andrea Yates drowned her five children in a bathtub. Now her attorney says she may be ready for release.

Suffering from severe postpartum depression, which led to unimaginable psychosis, Yates picked up the phone and called police. From crying police officers at the scene, to stunned journalists, to parents who were saddened around the world, June 20, 2001 was a dark day.

After two trials, Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She’s been in a mental hospital ever since.

"She understands how she was a victim as well as those five kids and that the culprit in this case was mental illness," said her attorney George Parnham.

Parnham sees Yates often and says she looks much different than she did 10 years ago.

"She is permitted to wear make-up. She wears jeans, she wears earrings, she combs her hair," said Parnham. "[She’s] much different, night and day."

Parnham says the doctors in Kerrville - where she is living - say her mind is different too.

"She is well, I will tell you that. She is ready in my opinion," he said.

Parnham said Sunday that his client will come up for a process called recommitment in November, when the state will have to present its case to keep her in custody.

" [They’ll try to prove] that she is a danger to others, that she is mentally ill and without patient treatment she will continue to deteriorate," Parnham said. "That is basically not what her treating physicians are telling us."

Parnham says he talks with Yates about her release often.

"I think she is afraid of the unknown. I mean it’s been 10 years," he said.

In the last 10 years, Parnham says the United States has made great strides when it comes to dealing with those with a mental illness.

"But if she can focus in on what this whole 10 years has meant to mental health then she will realize the legacy of her kids, [that] those lives were not lost in vain," he said.