Why Mothers Kill

Courts get a second look at Andrea Yates.

A state court of appeals today overturned * the capital murder convictions of Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who drowned five of her children in the bathtub in 2001. In 2002, Dahlia Lithwick explored the legal and medical problem of murderous mothers *, suggesting that neither the purely criminal-justice model nor the medical model fully accounts for this type of crime.

Correction, Jan. 6, 2005: Originally this item stated that a federal rather than a state appeals court reversed Yates’ convictions. Also it incorrectly used the term “matricide,” which refers to killing of mothers, not killing by mothers.