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Yates' 5 Children Fought to Live, Doctor Testifies

The Nation

March 10, 2002|From Associated Press

HOUSTON — Andrea Yates' five children died slowly, each struggling and gasping for air as she drowned them one by one in the family bathtub, a pediatric pathologist testified Saturday.

It would have taken each child three minutes to lose consciousness, and another three minutes to die, the pathologist said. In each case, he said, Yates would have had time to resuscitate the child afterward but didn't.

"Each of these children did not want to die, and they fought their deaths," Dr. Harry Wilson, a pathologist at Texas Tech University School of Medicine, said while testifying for the prosecution during the third week of testimony in Yates' capital murder trial.

Yates, 37, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Tears rolled down her face as she listened to Wilson describe her children's fight for life.

Wilson described the bruises on the children's bodies and used a life-size infant doll to show how Yates pushed the forehead of her youngest child, 6-month-old Mary, against the bottom of the bathtub.

He said autopsies found bacteria in the children's lungs, which showed they had inhaled vomit- and feces-riddled water in the tub as they were being drowned.

Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Stephens testified that he heard Yates tell a jail psychiatrist that she was stupid for not just killing her 6-month-old daughter.

Stephens said he overheard Yates tell Dr. Melissa Ferguson during an interview at the jail that she knew her actions were wrong.

During cross-examination, defense attorney George Parnham asked Stephens if he eavesdropped on a private conversation between Yates and Ferguson.

No, Stephens said: "I just stood there and listened," eliciting laughs from spectators.

On June 20, after her husband left for work, Yates drowned all five children in the tub, then called police and confessed. Officers found Noah, 7, face down in the bathtub, and the bodies of John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2, and Mary under a wet sheet on a bed.

Yates is being tried on two counts of capital murder, but could face other charges later.

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