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Mother who drowned five children gets new trial

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Washington (Dpa) - Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who drowned her five children in a bath tub and was sentenced to life in prison, Wednesday was granted a new trial.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals confirmed a lower court ruling that overturned Yates' conviction on the 2001 murders after finding that one of the witnesses gave false testimony, media reports said.

Yates' lawyer, George Parnham, told Cable News Network that the prosecution witness had given false testimony about an episode of the television show "Law and Order", which he claimed had given Yates the idea to kill her children, then plead she was incompetent to stand trial.

Yates was a fan of the show.

As it later turned out, there was no such episode, Parnham said.

"He argued to the jury that (Yates) was calculated and cold in doing what she did," he said. "That testimony was false."

Parnham said that Yates, who suffered severe postnatal depression after the births of her children and was home-schooling them at the time of the killings, was doing "much better" and was "receiving the best care" the criminal justice system had available.

"She obviously is very aware of the tragedy and lives with it every day of her life," he said.

Her husband stood up for his wife during the tragedy, and opposed the death penalty. The children ranged in age from six months to seven years old.

Her lawyers tried to prove Yates could not be held responsible for the killings because of her mental condition.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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