Child-Drown Mom Refusing Food

Andrea Yates, who is serving a life sentence for drowning her children in a bathtub three years ago, has been hospitalized in Galveston because she is refusing to eat, her attorney said Tuesday night.

Her condition was unclear, attorney George Parnham told The Associated Press late Tuesday. He said he tried but was unable to visit with his client Tuesday because she wasn’t coherent.

“There is apparently a determination within her that wants to put an end to this,” Parnham said. “I’m not sure what type of psychiatric medications can offset the reality of what occurred and make her feel better about that.”

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Resources on this case: articles, audio, video, photos, available at the web site of the Houston Chronicle

Book: Breaking Point, by Suzy Spencer

Prison spokesman Mike Viesca said Yates was transported from the Skyview Unit to a hospital in Galveston Monday night. He said he could give no other details.

Jurors rejected Andrea Yates’ insanity defense in March 2002 and found her guilty of capital murder for the June 20, 2001, drownings of three of her five children. The children ranged in age from 6 months to 7 years. Yates was not tried in the deaths of the other two children and will be eligible for parole in 2041.

Parnham said he visited with Yates in May about her appeal. She seemed fine at the time, but the next time he saw her, he said she had done a “180 turnaround.”

“The closer she got to the anniversary, the more thoughts she got, figuratively and literally,” Parnham said. “She started losing weight, going psychotic and it’s just not a good time.”

Parnham said Yates is down to about 107 pounds. Her Texas driver’s license lists her weight as 126 pounds. She is 5-foot-7.

It is not the first time Yates’ health has declined since her arrest. In September, doctors had to forcibly medicate her when she refused to take her medication, her husband said at the time.

Yates, 40, has been placed on suicide watch at least four times since her children’s deaths.

Within hours of her husband leaving for work on June 20, 2001, Yates called police and an ambulance to her home. She answered the door in wet clothes and told an officer what she had done.

She led the officer to a back bedroom where the four youngest children’s lifeless bodies were laid out on a bed. Police later found the oldest child, Noah, 7, floating face down with his arms outstretched in the tub’s murky water.

During her trial, psychiatrists testified that Yates suffered from schizophrenia and postpartum depression, but defense and prosecution expert witnesses disagreed over the severity of her illness and whether it prevented her from knowing that drowning her children was wrong — the two requirements to be declared legally insane in Texas.

Jurors determined Yates knew it was wrong to kill her children and found her guilty.

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