"My sense is that in some ways we've gone backward with verdicts like this," he said in an interview with PT. In addition, he is not convinced that the public is interested in any "improvements" in the statutes, citing an opposite trend that results in the enactment of more restrictive standards, such as guilty but mentally ill or eradication of the insanity defense altogether.
For George Parnham, the Houston lawyer who defended Yates, Texas' insanity defense yielded a harsh result for his client that failed to reflect the reality of her illness. He also criticized the lack of integration among health care providers who failed to provide the level of care that may have averted the tragedy. But even he concedes that, ultimately, jurors decide cases such as these in a way that sometimes ignores the expert testimony.
"What compelled the jury was the pictures of those children in those pajamas," Parnham said in an interview with PT. "We can talk all day long about mental health, medications, delusions and psychosis, but by golly when you take a picture of a 7-year-old boy who is lying face down in the tub, rigor mortis has set in, and you flip him over and you see the agony on his poor face, that's a toughie."