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Doctor Testifies She Warned Yates

July 08, 2006|From the Associated Press

HOUSTON — A psychiatrist testified Friday that she warned Andrea Yates not to have any more children after she tried to commit suicide twice within months of having her fourth child in 1999.

"I could pretty much predict that Mrs. Yates would have another episode of psychosis," Dr. Eileen Starbranch told jurors in Yates' murder retrial.

Starbranch said Yates suffered from postpartum psychosis, which the psychiatrist said causes a mother to have delusions and lose touch with reality, a condition much more severe than postpartum depression.

Yates drowned her five children in a bathtub in June 2001, six months after the birth of her youngest child, Mary.

She is on trial a second time because her 2002 murder convictions were overturned by an appeals court that said erroneous testimony might have influenced the jury.

She has again pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Yates' attorneys have never disputed that she killed the youngsters, but they say she didn't know the drownings were wrong.

Prosecutors say Yates may be mentally ill but does not meet the state's definition of insanity.

They say Yates planned to drown the children when she was alone with them, after her husband went to work and before her mother-in-law arrived.

Then Yates called 911 and later told a detective she killed them because she was a bad mother and wanted to be punished, according to witnesses.

In addition to Mary, Yates drowned Luke, 2; Paul, 3; John, 5; and Noah, 7.

Starbranch said she treated Yates after Yates tried to kill herself by overdosing on sleeping pills in June 1999.

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