Why Andrea Yates' Ex-Husband Calls Her Murder Trial the "Cruelest Thing" He's Ever Witnessed

Season 5 Episode 507
Aired on 04/25/2015 | CC tv-14
On the morning of June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates, a suburban housewife and mother of five, committed an unspeakable act that shocked the world. After feeding her family breakfast, Andrea waited for her husband, Rusty, to leave for work and then, one by one, drowned each of her children in the family's bathtub. She then dialed 911 and confessed to police.

During her trial, Andrea entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, saying that she suffered from a severe case of postpartum psychosis. Prosecutors, however, argued that she should receive the same punishment as any other murderer. Shortly after her first conviction in 2002, Rusty appeared on the Oprah Show and revealed that he was never angry at Andrea.

Now, more than a decade later, Rusty reveals that he and Andrea, whom he divorced in 2005, still talk about once a month and that he has forgiven her for killing their children. "Forgiveness implies that I ever really blamed her," he says. "I've always blamed her illness."

To this day, Rusty says he believes Andrea got a rough deal at trial. "I know some people are going to hear this and think it's crazy, but, to me, trying her, it was the single cruelest thing I've ever personally witnessed," he says. "Her actions were completely a result of her illness."

Rusty says Andrea was a mentally ill woman who was otherwise a great mother and great person, and he doesn't think she deserved to be charged with capital murder. "They spent a week showing pictures of our children's dead bodies in front of a jury, in front of her," he says. "From my perspective, that's the cruelest thing I've ever—I mean, she's somebody that needs, like, love, compassion, support. Instead, they just take her and put her, you know, on public display with the bodies of my children. It's so wrong."

Watch as Rusty shares more about Andrea's struggle with psychosis and delusions.

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