Andrea Yates Research Paper

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Katherine Jaros Dr. Ann Burgess FORS5317.01 4/19/2023 Understanding Andrea Yates: Mental Health and its Relationship to Violent Crime INTRODUCTION Mental health in criminal offenders is a highly complex and controversial issue that plays a critical role in determining how we understand and evaluate violent crimes. A significant number of offenders who commit violent crimes have some form of mental illness or disorder, which drives interest in studying such cases. Furthermore, during the legal process, there are always two sides that approach mental health in criminals and put it in consideration differently as they argue for opposite outcomes in the courtroom. Defense lawyers seek to emphasize the role that the illness or disorder …show more content…

The CCM describes this type of murder as the following: “four or more family members are killed and the perpetrator takes his own life, it is classified as a mass murder–suicide. Without the suicide and with four or more victims, the murder is classified as family mass murder.” With this definition in mind, Yate’s crime can clearly be seen as this type of murder. She had five victims total, each of whom was her own child. Another name for this type of murder is filicide, which is the killing of one’s own children. Additionally, some might look at Andrea Yate’s crime and describe it as a mercy homicide because Yate’s claimed that her motivation to kill her children was to “save them from the eternal torment of …show more content…

Her defense team used the NGRI defense, and provided numerous arguments intended to convince the jury that Yate’s was not in a sound state of mind when she committed the murders. In 2002, the jury found her guilty of capital murder, but because of her mental illness, she was sentenced to life in prison rather than receiving the death penalty. However, in 2006 her conviction was overturned on appeal because of a false testimony from a prosecution witness. Yates was retried and found not guilty by reason of insanity and was then committed to a state mental hospital. In my opinion, the NGRI defense was applied correctly here because I believe that the evidence demonstrates how Yate’s believed she was doing the right thing for her children. She was suffering from a severe mental illness, which made her incapable of understanding the implications of what she had done. Her history of postpartum depression and suicide attempts, which led to professional treatment, help provide facts that she was clearly not of sound mind when she committed the killings. I personally believe that mental illness should always be taken into account when looking at the facts of a crime because each situation is different and applying objective legal standards to the circumstance deprives the offender of a complete evaluation and the possible treatment that they

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