Andrea Yates’ capital murder convictions for drowning her children were overturned Thursday by an appeals court, which ruled that a prosecution witness’ erroneous testimony about a nonexistent TV episode could have been crucial.
Yates’ lawyers had argued at a hearing last month before a three-judge panel of the First Court of Appeals in Houston that psychiatrist Park Dietz was wrong when he mentioned an episode of the TV show “Law & Order” involving a woman found innocent by reason of insanity for drowning her children.
After jurors found Yates guilty, attorneys in the case and jurors learned no such episode existed.
“We conclude that there is a reasonable likelihood that Dr. Dietz’s false testimony could have affected the judgment of the jury,” the court ruled. “We further conclude that Dr. Dietz’s false testimony affected the substantial rights of appellant.”
Not knowing the intricacies of the law – does she get released until the re-trial? Do they keep her in jail?
Scary thought. I can’t imagine someone who admitted to the crime would be set free onto the general population? Surely they will keep her hospitalized until the re-trial?
This is one of those cases that just absolutely turned my stomach inside out. It’s always my fear that people like this will be freed based on misconduct by a juror or witness. Apparently, the witness in this case purjored himself – which is the cause for a mistrial.
As if there wasn’t already enough evidence to convict her – he had to go making up stories.