Houston Chronicle

Sept. 6, 2001, 7:30AM

Yates' family notified of competency hearing

Houston Chronicle

Family members of Andrea Pia Yates, the Clear Lake mother accused of drowning her five children, have been notified by prosecutors that they may be called to testify at a competency hearing next week.

Court documents filed Tuesday show that prosecutor Kaylynn Williford issued subpoenas for Yates' mother, Jutta Kennedy; brothers Andrew, Patrick and Brian Kennedy; sister Michelle Freeman; mother-in-law Dora Yates; and brother-in-law Randy Yates.

Yates' husband, Russell, was subpoenaed last week, his lawyer, Edward Mallett, has said.

The competency hearing to determine whether Andrea Yates, 37, is able to stand trial on two charges of capital murder is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

State District Judge Belinda Hill has issued a gag order, prohibiting prosecutors, lawyers, investigators and witnesses from talking publicly about the case.

Yates, a homemaker who home-schooled her children, called police to her home in the 900 block of Beachcomber on June 20 and admitted to drowning Noah, 7, John, 5, Paul, 3, Luke, 2, and Mary, 6 months, in the bathtub.

She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Medical records indicate that Yates had been treated for severe depression on and off over a two-year period before the deaths.

Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal is seeking the death penalty. He said the decision was made to give a jury a full range of punishment options.

Defense lawyers George Parnham and Wendell Odom requested the competency hearing because they said when they first interviewed Yates after she was jailed, she appeared "not to have a rational or factual understanding of the proceedings against her."

The judge ordered the competency hearing because there was a discrepancy among doctors who had examined Yates.

Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle