Eight women, four men selected to hear Andrea Yates case; alternates still to be chosen


Tuesday, January 29th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


HOUSTON (AP) _ Nearly a month into jury selection, attorneys in the case of a Houston mother accused of drowning her five children have settled on 12 jurors to hear the capital murder case.

The 12th juror _ a woman _ joined Monday the seven other women and four men who will decide the fate of Andrea Yates, who faces two capital murder charges for the June drowning deaths of three of her five children.

``It can either be that there is something wrong with her or that she is a really bad person,'' the woman who became the 12th juror, said of Yates during questioning Monday. ``I don't know what the problem is.''

State District Judge Belinda Hill increased from two to three the number of alternates that still must be selected and a new group of 60 potential jurors was trimmed to 35 based on questioning. A total of 240 people have been summoned for questioning.

Eight of the 12 jurors selected for the panel indicated they had children of their own, including one of two women who said they had psychology degrees.

Testimony is expected to begin in mid-February after a break to allow attorneys a chance to regroup following jury selection.

Yates faces one charge of capital murder for the deaths of Noah, 7, and John, 5, and a second charge for Mary, 6 months. In Texas, those convicted of a multiple murder or killing an infant are eligible for the death penalty.

Charges are pending for the drownings of the other two Yates children, Paul, 3, and Luke, 2.

Yates, 37, has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. If jurors determine Yates did not know the difference between right and wrong because of mental illness, Texas law says she must be found innocent by reason of insanity.

Yates, who during previous court hearings has remained quiet and barely moved, has been much more alert, talkative and mobile lately.

On Monday, she suddenly popped out of her seat when the court was in recess and headed to a water cooler, delivering a drink to her mother-in-law before a bailiff asked her to return to her seat.

Later, her husband, Russell Yates, was ordered out of the courtroom after conversing with his wife during a break. He is under investigation for possibly violating a judge's order not to discuss the case publicly.