Andrea Yates could get supervised outings from state hospital


It's been almost 13 years since Yates drowned her five children in the bathtub in the family's Clear Lake home. Now Eyewitness News has exclusively learned that her longtime attorney is trying to get her privileges that would allow her to go outside the hospital with restrictions.

Andrea Yates is the only patient at Kerrville State Hospital who isn't allowed any supervised outings. If the request is granted, she would have both security and mental health worker with her at all times.

A teleconference with Yates' doctors at the hospital where she is confined was postponed because Yates' attorney, George Parnham, was out of the area on another case. At issue is whether Yates could be granted permission by the judge to have periodic two hour off-campus supervised trips into the community, based on her doctors' recommendation.

KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy said, "She needs to have her mental health bolstered and the only way to do that is to give somebody some fresh air."

Yates has been confined since her 2001 arrest after she drowned her five children -- Noah, John, Paul, Luke and Mary, who ranged in age from seven years to six months -- in the bathtub of the family's Clear Lake home. She was found guilty at her first trial in 2002, then found not guilty by reason of insanity at her second trial in 2006. The jury agreed with Yates' attorneys that she was too mentally ill to comprehend her actions at the time.

A petition to the court seeks a judge's ruling on periodic outings off campus that Yates would take, always escorted by security. She's the only patient at Kerrville State Hospital who isn't allowed that privilege. The two hour outings, common for most patients, could occur every few months, at the judge's discretion.

"They're not asking that she be released into the streets of Houston to go shopping and go have dinner like the rest of us," Androphy explained. "What they're asking for is that she get some minimal opportunity to go outside and get some fresh air, maybe walk the streets, mingle with other inmates there, or other people who have been institutionalized."

Yates has been diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses since the crime, including schizophrenia. Her doctors feel that she is now well managed enough on medication to be granted a few of these trips safely.

We contacted Judge Brad Hart's courtroom where the hearing was scheduled but were told by the court coordinator that no such hearing had existed on his docket.

Androphy said this is a political hot potato for a judge, and Judge Hart may not have wanted the public to be aware of what his ruling might be on the recommendation.

"Judges are very nervous about this because they are elected officials and they don't want to do anything that gives an opponent in a future election to crucify a judge and say, 'That's the judge who let Andrea Yates out,'" Androphy said.

This hearing was requested by Yates' doctors. The petition was filed under seal. We'll let you know when it is rescheduled.

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