Posted By on August 1, 2006

“Talk Stupid”

.: I have a friend who called me up several days ago and left the following message:

“Hey Cody, I’m on the Andrea Yates jury. Call me back when you have a chance.”

.: I called him back after I heard the verdict, and I informed him that just about everybody in my office was upset but me. One thought seriously entertained by a coworker was, “How do we know she’s not lying?” Never mind that neither side at the trial thought she was malingering; my coworker felt right just by asking that question.

.: I met my friend at a local Denny’s a few days later and we talked about the trial — apparently she was insane, and that was what caused her to drown her children. You were expecting more? There really isn’t much to it. She suffered from postpartum depression, her father just died, and she was brainwashed by a religious nutjob. She was also insane.

.: He told me about fellow jurists who were so impressed by expert witness’s credentials that they failed to notice that said witness’s testimonies were utter crap, and he also talked about other jurists who wanted to vote guilty by reason of insanity, despite that not being an option.

“A person will think something very deeply, right? Suppose someone thinks the same thing but deeper than you. And then they are proven wrong. How much sense would it take for you to realize that, if they’re thinking deeper than you and they are proven wrong, how wrong are you?”

.: Going back to the people in my office — the same people who were so eager to pass judgment on a woman they erroneously considered rational — I discovered today that one of them doesn’t believe in pirates. Now you might be thinking, “Oh sure, the Captain Hook/Jack Sparrow pirate doesn’t exist” — and I’ll go ahead and agree with you on that. But I explained to her what real pirates were, and she still didn’t believe me.

.: I am reminded of a girl I met at Baylor who doesn’t believe in dinosaurs. Not “I don’t believe dinosaurs existed millions of years before humans” but “I believe they never existed at all.” I’m just glad that she’s a student so she doesn’t have to serve jury duty.

.: Of course, there are people who simply don’t believe dinosaurs existed millions of years before humans — about half the nation, I believe. Chances are some of them serve jury duty every now and then. That’s okay, though. That’s totally different.

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3 Responses to “Jury-Rigged”

  1. Jim Fisher says:

    I am not saying Andrea was not touched a little in the head, you would have to be to put down your own children. I thought the legal descriprion of insane for purpose of murder was not having the ability to know that killing is wrong. I am curious, does your friend really feel that Andrea was not capable of understanding that killing her kids was wrong? If your friend doesn’t mind ( I realize everyone plus their mother is probably asking him similar questions) could you ask him. Perhaps she was that far gone. It just seems that if you can lie to the police and media and public about what happened, then you must have an understanding that it is wrong, or you wouldn’t lie about it.

  2. Cody says:

    She didn’t lie to the police: she told them what, to the best of her mental ability, she thought was true. She said the children weren’t righteous, and what she did was kill them before they reached the age of accountability. That way, so goes her thinking, they would automatically go to heaven. She thought she was saving her children from Satan. She thought she was doing the right thing.

    Neither the defense nor the prosecutors doubted her sincerity in her testomonies and confessions. The prosecutors angle was to show she still knew, in the back of her mind, right from wrong at the time she killed her children. They felt that she went completely insane only after the killings, but they failed to demonstrate this course of development at the trial. In fact, one of their expert witnesses who tried to show she knew it was wrong made up evidence in the first trial:

    PDF Link

    “In this case, six expert witnesses testified that Appellant was insane at the time she committed the offense. Every expert witness that testified, including Dr. Dietz, admitted that Appellant suffered from severe mental illness. Appellant’s extensive mental health history was presented to the jury. The most compelling evidence that Appellant was not insane at the time she committed the offense came from Dr. Dietz. The false evidence regarding the Law & Order episode was especially significant because it was the only evidence that gave the jury the impression that Appellant was calculated in her commission of the drownings. The false evidence was used by Dr. Dietz to bolster his own uncorroborated conclusion that Appellant was not insane at the time of the drownings.

    . . .

    First and foremost, the false testimony was not harmless. In light of the overwhelming evidence of insanity presented in this case, it is highly likely that the false testimony is precisely the evidence that the jury hung its hat on in finding Appellant guilty. Certainly it was something in Dr. Dietz’ testimony that the jury believed because he was the only witness to provide evidence that Appellant was not insane at the time she committed the offense.”

    The false Law & Order evidence, by the way, was an episode Dietz cited about a mother who drowned her kids. No such episode existed.

    As for your question (does your friend really feel that Andrea was not capable of understanding that killing her kids was wrong?), my friend was able to use a similar question, albeit more strongly worded, as a fairly effective rhetorical point. I can’t remember if the other person in his quote was another jurist familiar with mental diseases or an expert on the topic, but either way it serves a point:

    “And after we got through I [my friend] said, ‘Let me see if I can get this straight. You’re trying to tell me that there exist a disease that is so strong and so powerful, it can completely take over your perception. You can’t pull it away, and it’s beyond all your knowledge, all your training, all your education — and you can’t even know it?’ He [the other person] goes, ‘Yes!’ and I say, ‘Oh thanks. Thank you. Let’s move on to point number 2.'”

  3. Jim Fisher says:

    I am not a big one to judge on a case that I have very little knowledge on. Especially when the only onfo you do get comes from the media.

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