Andrea Yates, the 36-year-old mother who killed her five children in 2001 and was found not guilty by reason of insanity, has once again waived her annual right to a hearing that would determine if she eligible to leave a mental health facility.
Yates confessed to drowning children Noah, John, Paul, Luke and Mary, who ranged in age from 7 years to six months old, in the bathtub of their Houston-area home in June 2001. The crime transfixed the nation.
She’s so happy when ... I go out to the cemetery and get some flowers for the kids. I’ll tell her what I’ve done and she’s delighted that someone is out there taking care of the kids’ graves."George Parnham, Yates' attorney
In 2002, Yates was convicted of capital murder, but the case was appealed and the verdict was overturned. In 2006, Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was remanded to Kerrville State Hospital, a mental health facility in Texas, in January 2007.
Each year, she is eligible for a competency review that would determine if she can leave the hospital, according to George Parnham, Yates' longtime attorney.
"She is in Kerrville, but we waive these hearings," Parnham said of Yates, now 57. "She comes up for review every year and we waive. What we do — and I do this for her — each year she comes up for review every year, and I represent her at the judge. We waive a hearing period."
A representative for Kerrville State Hospital could not confirm or deny Yates was a patient at the facility when contacted by TODAY.
Parnham told TODAY Yates is "doing very well."
"I see her once maybe every two months. I talked to her last week. She has a cell phone and we visit," he said.
Parnham continued, "You know, she’s so happy when I go to Galveston and I go out to the cemetery and get some flowers for the kids. I’ll tell her what I’ve done and she’s delighted that someone is out there ... that someone is out there taking care of the kids’ graves."
Yates' defense attorney also told TODAY he ensures the grass is cut properly at the grave sites.Despite an attorney-client relationship that has spanned the course of more than two decades, Parnham said he has not discussed the tragedy with Yates.
“I’ve never discussed that day in the past twenty-plus years,” Parnham said.
"Andrea has a very deep spiritual side to her and I am certain this would be the most appropriate of baby steps, if you will, into a life as normal as possible some way down the road," Parnham said at the time.