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Susan Smith's ex-husband: Let Yates father grieve

David Smith, left, and former wife Susan in 1994, before she was convicted of murdering their two sons  

MOORE, South Carolina (CNN) -- David Smith, the father of two young boys who were drowned by their mother in 1994, said the media should let Russell Yates grieve for his five children who were drowned allegedly by their mother last month near Houston, Texas.

"The media needs to back off from Mr. Yates, let him grieve, let him miss his kids, let him have some time," Smith said in an interview aired Thursday on CNN's "The Point with Greta Van Susteren."

Smith's ex-wife, Susan, was convicted of murdering their two boys -- 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alex -- and is serving a life prison sentence. However, she is eligible for parole in 2025.

On October 24, 1994, Susan Smith told police she had been carjacked by a black man and that her two children were still in their car seats in the vehicle. For nine days, she made tearful pleas on television for the return of her children, before finally confessing to having rolled the car herself into a nearby pond with her children inside. She was 23 at the time.

Russell Yates with his family  

Andrea Yates, 37, is in a Houston jail, charged with capital murder in the deaths of her five children. Police said she called authorities to her home June 20 and told them, "I killed my children." Each child -- aged from six months to seven years -- was drowned in a bathtub, police said. Under Texas law, she could face the death penalty if convicted.

Russell Yates has acknowledged that his wife experienced postpartum depression after giving birth to their fourth child, and again following the birth of their last child.

Smith said his wife killed their two sons "out of greed, out of selfishness," because her new boyfriend didn't want children around. Smith and his wife were separated and getting a divorce at the time.

But, he said, there's no excuse for killing your children.

"We all have problems, every one of us in some shape, form or matter, but your children, they're innocent, they don't do anything wrong," he said. "No matter what problems you have in your life ... you still don't murder your children."

Smith said he's not puzzled by Russell Yates' very public support of his wife, Andrea.

As with the Yates' children, an impromptu memorial was set up for the Smith boys  

"I wouldn't dare criticize or condemn him for what he's feeling, the man has just lost his children and that I do understand," Smith said. "I have been in his shoes, and if you haven't, then you don't understand what else he's dealing with. He's going to go through all kind of feelings, and if he wants to stand by his wife, so be it."

Smith said that if he were to talk to Yates, he would apologize for the loss of the Yates children.

"My heart went out to Mr. Yates. It was almost like I could feel his pain coming through the television, I could see it, I could feel it," Smith said, referring to Yates' candid comments to the media the day after his wife's arrest.

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