Reports: Judge may investigate possible gag order violation in accused Houston child killer case

Tuesday, December 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HOUSTON (AP) _ A judge is considering an investigation into whether her gag order was violated by the husband and chief prosecutor of a woman accused of drowning her five children, according to reports.

Russell Yates and Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal were interviewed about the case by the CBS news magazine ''60 Minutes'' in a segment that aired Sunday night.

State District Judge Belinda Hill is considering appointing a special prosecutor to look into the matter, unidentified sources told the Houston Chronicle and Houston television station KPRC.

Attorneys for both sides met in Hill's chambers Monday, but neither Yates nor Rosenthal were present. Hill had no comment when asked afterward about the discussions.

Yates told the Chronicle that he had been given a legal opinion that cleared him to publicly discuss his wife's psychiatric treatment prior to the killings. He declined to say where he got the opinion.

His wife, Andrea Yates, is charged with capital murder in the June 20 deaths of three of the five children. She has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Jan. 7.

Rosenthal told the newspaper he does not believe his appearance on the program violated Hill's order. The judge had given him permission in August to release a statement regarding the death penalty, he said.

``What I did was authorized by the judge,'' Rosenthal said, adding that he did the interview in early September.

Both Russell Yates and Rosenthal could face up to six months in jail and up to a $500 fine for contempt of court if it is proved they violated the gag order by granting the interviews.