HOUSTON - In a dramatic turnaround from her first murder trial, Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity yesterday in the drowning of her five children in a bathtub.
Yates' chief attorney, George Parnham, called the new verdict:
"a watershed for mental illness and the criminal justice system."
Damn ... a watershed for mental illness is the phrase I was going to use as the sub-heading for the blog. Now I'll probably have to buy it from that attorney.
Aside from being a poor choice of metaphor, I don't know why the mentally ill needed a watershed moment, but apparently the criminal justice system does. In this instance, perhaps criminal justice is the biggest oxymoron of 2006. Unless you consider that justice has been given to the criminal, then it's just stupid.
I just don't get the "not guilty by reason of insanity" defense. Either she is guilty or not. Anyone who commits a crime is mentally ill in some manner, and if someone is so deranged that she drowns her own children, she doesn't deserve to go to a mental health facility. She needs to be incarcerated for life, which would have been her sentence if she were found guilty.
So, the criminal justice system has seen fit to put Yates in a mental hospital until she is "no longer deemed a threat", which is probably soon, since she has run out of children.