- Published: January 7, 2014
On June 20, 2001, Houstonian woman Andrea Yates murdered her five children by drowning them in the bathtub of her house. The case brought national attention because it caused great public scrutiny over the M’Naghten Rules (the legal test for insanity). While she was convicted of murder in 2008 and sentenced to life in prison, this conviction was overturned on an appeal. In 2006, the state of Texas declared Yates to be not guilty for reasons of insanity (NGRI). Therefore, she was sent to a medical facility rather than to jail.
This case is interesting because it seems to deal more with emotions of the human brain than actual scientific neurological “evidence.” According to an article in the online magazine Reason, “none of the celebrated objective brain-analyzing technologies—not functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), not positron emission tomography (PET), not computed axial tomography (CAT)—had any bearing on the Yates case as it was presented in court.” Instead, it was the jury members’ and public’s inability to comprehend or reason Yates’s decisions that caused them to believe…