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'For the children's sake'

Yates confession tape is chilling account of drownings

HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- Dressed in an orange jailhouse jumpsuit, Andrea Yates tells a state psychologist that her five children struggled as she held them under water, one by one, in a bathtub. One of her sons asked, "Have I been a bad boy?" just before she killed him.

"It needed to be done for the children's sake," Yates says in the chilling confession captured last year on jailhouse video, which prosecutors released Friday.

The Texas woman was sentenced to life in prison after a jury convicted her in March on two counts of murder for the June 2001 drownings of her 6-month-old daughter Mary, and her sons Noah, 7, and John, 5. The charges did not cover the deaths of her two other sons, Paul, 3, and Luke, 2, who were also drowned.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has more on an interview with Andrea Yates in which she explains why she killed her five children (June 15)

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The tape, shot last November, shows Yates dressed in a jumpsuit and sitting in a chair, listening to psychologist Park Dietz, who was questioning her off-camera.

Yates described in detail how she drowned the children, saying she had decided to commit the crime the night before the murders. She said Satan had told her to do it.

Yates said she made herself and the children breakfast and fed her infant daughter, and then locked the doors to the house to prevent the children from escaping before drawing cold water into the tub.

She said Noah entered the room after she had drowned Mary and said, "Mommy, what's wrong with Mary?" Yates said Noah then asked, "Have I been a bad boy?"

Asked whether the children struggled during the drownings, Yates nodded her head yes.

Yates had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Her attorneys argued she was severely mentally ill and suffering from psychosis when she drowned her children. Prosecutors said she was mentally ill but still knew her actions were wrong.

Under Texas law, defendants can be declared not guilty by reason of insanity only if it is determined they did not know right from wrong at the time of the crime.

Yates will be eligible for parole in 40 years.




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