Murderer Andrea Yates and Her Mental Disorder

Subject: Psychiatry
Pages: 3
Words: 554
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: College

Overview of the Case Story

Andrea Kennedy Yates “drowned her children on June 20, 2001” (Resnick, 2007, p. 3). According to experts, Yates suffered from depression and psychosis. The legal test for insanity known as the M’Naghten Rules was used during the case. The court eventually convicted Andrea Yates of capital murder.

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The verdict was later reduced to life imprisonment. The Texas jury finally “found that Yates was not guilty by reason of insanity on 26th July 2006″ (Resnick, 2007, p. 4). Yates later received “the best medical support from the North Texas State Hospital” (Resnick, 2007, p. 5). In 2007, Andrea was transferred to a low-security facility in Kerrville.

“Not Guilty by Insanity” Defense

As mentioned earlier, it was difficult for the defendant to be found not guilty by insanity in a court of law. The Texas jury later confirmed that “Andrea Yates was not guilty by reason of insanity” (Resnick, 2007, p. 3). Andrea’s lawyers and health professionals presented their evaluations to the jury. Such testimonies made it easier for the jury to determine Andrea’s criminal responsibility. The above argument shows clearly that Andrea’s mental illness affected her ability to make the best decision. This fact explains why Yates committed the above crime.

However, it is usually impossible to prove a person’s state of mind at the time of committing his or her crime. Medical professionals and prosecutors should therefore consider the issues associated with various psychological disorders (Weatherby, Blanche, & Jones, 2008). It is also agreeable that psychotic disorders have become common in the criminal justice system. The jury relied on the evidence and testimonies presented by different witnesses. That being the case, it becomes clear that many judges use insanity as a legal concept.

Ethical Issues

A number of ethical issues are notable in Andrea Yates’ case. The “culprit suffered from a mental condition long before she drowned her children” (Resnick, 2007, p. 6). According to different witnesses, Andrea was unhealthy and unstable. That being the case, the government should offer lifetime medical support to individuals with various mental conditions. This ethical concern is critical because it resulted in the death of five innocent children. Judges should examine the medical history of every offender. This knowledge will make it easier “for judges to establish whether a mental illness has influenced a person’s criminal responsibility” (Weatherby et al., 2008, p. 18).

It is also appropriate for law enforcement officers to consider the histories of individuals with various psychotic disorders. This approach will make it easier for judges to deal with different offenders. It is also impossible “to determine the mental capability of an individual at the time of committing a specific crime” (Resnick, 2007, p. 5). Many people “think that only mentally ill individuals are capable of committing such crimes” (Weatherby et al., 2008, p. 14).

That being the case, offenders should not always be labeled insane simply by committing such crimes (Weatherby et al., 2008). Proper investigations should be done in order to ensure every offender pays for his or her crime. The government should use the best strategies in order to support every mentally-ill patient. Children under the care of such patients should also get the best support and care (Durand & Barlow, 2012). This approach will minimize most of the crimes encountered in different parts of the world.

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Reference List

Durand, M., & Barlow, D. (2012). Essential of Abnormal Psychology. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Resnick, P. (2007). The Andrea Yates Case: Insanity on Trial. Cleveland State Law Review, 55(2), 1-10.

Weatherby, G., Blanche, J., & Jones, R. (2008). The Value of Life: Female Killers and the Feminine Mystique. Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Research & Education, 2(1), 1-20.