Thursday, July 27, 2006

Andrea Yates: Not guilty by reason of insanity

Van Helsing at Moonbattery has a great post on the Yates acquittal. For those of you who don't recall, Andrea Yates drowned her five kids in a bathtub, and was convicted of her crime. Her conviction was overturned, she was retried, and she was found to be "not guilty by reason of insanity." I left a comment at Moonbattery, but I will copy-and-paste it here.

Please allow me to submit that Yates was not insane, but psychotic. You see, "insane" is not a clinical is a legal term. One can be psychotic, yet legally sane. See Ted Bundy, Jeff Dahmer, etc.

The legal definition of "insane" basically means the following:

* the accused must lack the ability to understand his/her actions;

* the accused must lack the ability to appreciate the wrongfulness, or illegality, of his/her actions.

* some locales require that the accused must not have remorse for their actions, because remorse indicates an ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of the actions.

If ANY of those conditions are not met, then the insanity test fails. For example, Bundy and Dahmer were both psychotic, and no one disputes that. However, because they actively hid the evidence of their crimes by various means (lying, hiding bodies, ingesting them, etc.), those acts show that they clearly understood that their acts were wrong (morally, legally, etc.).

Scenario #1: A cop goes into a house and sees a man killing a woman. The cop tells the man to stop and drop the weapon, and the man says "Why? I'm killing Satan!" If clinical tests show that the killer genuinely believed he was killing Satan and thus benefitting mankind, chances are that the killer would be found "Not guilty by reason of insanity." Why? Because he would not have been able to appreciate the reality of his crime, nor would he have determined that his crime was actually a crime.

Scenario #2: A woman waits for her husband to go to work, and then proceeds to drown her five kids in a bathtub, one by one. She then calls 911 to admit what she's done. That very phone call, plus the initial waiting of the hubby to leave, illustrated that she knew her actions were wrong, thus obliterating her insanity defense.

The jury got it wrong, pure and simple. Yates is psychotic, NOT insane!