Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Jury did right thing in the case of Andrea Yates

Re: Abandoned by sanity, victimized by ignorance, March 17.

In her Sunday column, Mary Jo Melone made the argument that schizophrenia is a condition, not a crime and that Andrea Yates should not be held responsible for her actions. Andrea Yates was not on trial for being a schizophrenic. She was on trial for drowning her children. The question is, "Did she drown her children?" The answer is, "Yes!" Is drowning one's children considered murder? Yes!

What other choice did the jurors have? Was this heinous act carried out as the result of a long history of schizophrenic hallucinations? Of course. To that, there is no doubt. However, the fact still remains that she committed murder and was rightly convicted for murder.

The insanity plea is rather ludicrous. Outside of war and self-defense, which we have deemed as justifiable homicide in most cases, no sane person would ever take another person's life. Insanity should not be used to absolve responsibility; it should just slightly alter the way we punish the one who is responsible.

All the mercy she deserved was handed to her with the sentence of life in prison. Life in a mental institution would also be acceptable if that is deemed more humane. But Mrs. Yates should not be allowed back into society again _ ever.

In my mind the question is not whether Andrea Yates was guilty but have all guilty parties been convicted? I believe Russell Yates, the children's father, should be tried as an accessory to the murder of his children. As a husband and father myself, I came to this conclusion with much angst. But the arguments are compelling.

Mr. Yates was such a loving and devoted father that while he was off pursuing his career for eight to 12 hours a day, he left his children with a woman who had a history of mental illness and suicide attempts. The fact that the woman happened to be his wife and his children's mother is immaterial.

To make matters worse, he kept adding to the stress in her life by giving her more children to care for. The decision was then made for her to home-school their children. The woman needed a break from the pressure that school away from home could have provided. In many cases, home-schooling is a very positive alternative to the failing public schools. However, asking a mother with a history of mental illness and suicide attempts to be totally responsible for educating her children is idiocy.

I have a very similar belief foundation to that of the Yateses. Prayer and faith can solve any problem. But there is a difference between having faith that the Lord will solve your problems and sticking your head in the sand and expecting the problems to just go away. Faith without works is dead. Russell Yates did nothing to protect his children from the hallucinations of a schizophrenic woman. He should be sitting right next her in the cell.

James Douglas, St. Petersburg

Yates verdict brought sadness

I was stunned and saddened by the outcome of the Andrea Yates trial. While I think the crime committed is heinous in its nature, I feel she did not do it willingly and was under extreme psychosis. I do believe that her husband should accept some responsibility as well. He knew from the start that Andrea was not well and could not handle having more children. But what was his solution? After her attempted suicides and after her being heavily medicated, he decided another child would cure her.

He did not help in the day-to-day chores that overwhelmed her, deeming it to be a women's job to raise the kids and keep the house clean. That's not to mention the fact that she home-schooled them as well. She had little time to be by herself, to refresh her mind and body. He denied the fact that Andrea needed help because he did not want to deal with the kids, just reproduce them. Men are clueless to the fact that women go through an emotional roller coaster after giving birth to a child. We are not set on auto-pilot and automatically become superwomen just because we give birth.

As a mother, I know how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mom. You have limited access to the outside world. No co-workers to talk to, no adult conversations, no lunch breaks and definitely, no Christmas bonuses. I can't even imagine having five kids under the age of 7 to take care of 24 hours a day. I don't know whether this will bring attention to the fact that postpartum depression does exist and needs special attention. I do hope Andrea Yates gets the help she needs and her verdict is appealed and overturned. I think that family has seen enough death and sadness to last a lifetime.

Diane Rancan, Palm Harbor

Husband should share the blame

Much has been said and printed regarding the stability of Andrea Yates. The reasons for the brutal murders are many. However, I think that one salient point that is largely ignored is the role of her husband, Russell Yates. He is saying the doctors are at fault, as they stopped prescribing the needed medications.

My problem is with him! If he knew of her ongoing problems (which were many), why did he continue to impregnate her? Why did he not use some sort of protection? He fathered two more children when he was well aware of the risks. Is he to walk away free, to possibly divorce his wife, remarry and have more children?

As I envision the years, months, weeks and days leading up to the climax, I see a mother who took excellent care of her children, even home-schooling them. This meant that she had little respite from caring for five active and sometimes screaming kids _ all while dutifully taking her medications. On the other hand, her husband blithely left each day for his work place which provided a period of release, thus allowing him to return home relatively fresh, expecting his wife to minister to him _ in addition to the children.

I think Mr. Yates should share a large bulk of the blame and not be pointing fingers at the doctors.

It will be a real miscarriage of justice if he is allowed to wash his hands of the whole sordid affair and to continue with a new life (with possibly a new wife and family).

Richard P. Shinn, South Pasadena

Marchers offer hope

Re: Protecting innocence isn't child's play, by Elijah Gosier, March 5.

This column was a grave disservice to the credibility of the drug marches that are taking place in the city of St. Petersburg. Because I am a resident of Bartlett Park, where there is a high rate of drugs, prostitution and crime, I participate in the marches. I am a very proud participant and I thank the city of St. Petersburg for its participation and support in organizing these marches.

Elijah Gosier referred to the participants as vigilantes. He insinuated that our main goal is to hunt down and destroy young black men. He topped off his accusations with a picture of Andy Garr, whose leadership has made the marches a huge success.

Our slogan, "Up with Hope, Down with Dope," is a manifestation of the desire of the organizers and participants of these marches to bring hope to young people who peddle dope on our street corners.

I realize that the opinions of newspaper columnists are not the opinions of the newspaper itself. I do believe, though, that the opinions of newspaper columnists should be based on truth and not fabricated. There should be equal and fair coverage of issues that concern the black community. Our community has joined together to deal with issues such as drugs and violence, which destroy our children's future.

Gosier along with two black police officers, Cedric Gordon and Al White, stood along the sidelines as the march took place. The young men who performed for the cameras and media seemed to be empowered by their presence. If Gosier was as concerned for the future of these youth as the marchers are, he would have embraced our slogan, "Up with Hope, Down with Dope."

Sharon Russ, St. Petersburg

Steel tariff will cost us jobs

Re: Buy American, letter, March 13.

The letter writer praises George W. Bush's steel tariff as an "incentive to save American jobs." Unfortunately, this new tax will ultimately destroy more jobs than it creates. The tariff will make both imported and domestic steel more costly as domestic producers take advantage of artificially inflated prices.

Rising steel costs will affect every business that uses steel, forcing them to raise prices on their products. Increased prices will lead many consumers to forgo major purchases; declining sales will inevitably lead to layoffs. For every steel-producing job saved, several more will be lost in steel-consuming industries _ a net loss of American jobs at a time when the economy is still struggling. Bush deserves condemnation, not praise, for the steel tariff.

Salvatore T. Falco, Largo

Senate's fuel folly

Re: Tougher fuel bill defeated in Senate, March 14.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney a short while ago adamantly informed the country that we have an energy crises and that we need to drill in the arctic refuge.

It was suggested by environmentalists that this would then be a good time to increase the fuel economy standards for all vehicles and by so doing, we may not need to drill in the arctic refuge. Increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles should not be much of a problem. A lot of advances have been made since the last time Congress set standards _ back in 1975.

Now I read that the Senate has voted 62-38 to not set new standards for more fuel-efficient automobiles. Huh? Does this mean we do not need to conserve energy, that there is no longer an "energy crises," and that we can continue in our wasteful ways?

V. Paradis, Seminole

Ceremony's revival is welcome

Re: Anthem is back with a snap, March 12.

This item by Dong-Phuong Nguyen in your paper struck a chord within me as a 20-year Navy retiree. The restored retreat ceremony was to me a real eye-opener.

I lived with this ceremony for 20 years and was appalled to learn that it had been stopped due to a bad P.A. system. In my years as a military man stationed on many military bases with sound systems that left a lot to be desired as far as quality is concerned, I have to say that no matter how bad the sound, the "flutters" as noted by Joseph Landry in your last paragraph, always flowed through me as I stood at attention and saluted during the playing of the national anthem. It still does to this day and will until I can no longer do so.

Thank you for a great presentation and explanation of a ceremony that needs so much to be presented to our American public to reawaken the spirit of patriotism in light of our present trying times. Again, thank You.

Harold Chapman, Hudson

Share your opinions

Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They also can be sent by fax to (727) 893-8675.

They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number. Please include a handwritten signature when possible.

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length. We regret that not all letters can be published.

For e-mail users: Letters can be sent by e-mail to E-mail messages must be text only and cannot include attachments. If you're using a word processing program to write the message, you must use its "Save as" function to save it as a text file, then import it into your e-mail program. Please include your return e-mail address, as well as your name, mailing address and phone number, in the text of the message.