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Mother in drowning case may avoid death penalty

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HOUSTON (AP) — A woman on trial for drowning her five children in the bathtub likely could avoid the prospect of the death penalty if she accepts responsibility for the act, a prosecutor said.

Jury selection began Tuesday in the murder trial of Andrea Yates, 37, who has confessed to police that she drowned her children, ranging in age from 6 months to 7 years, but pleaded innocent by reason of insanity. Her attorneys say she suffers from a severe form of postpartum depression.

Prosecutor Joe Owmby said the state could reconsider its decision to seek the death penalty if more evidence were revealed.

"Even at this stage for example, the defendant could choose to accept criminal responsibility which would be an additional mitigating factor and would I believe, very likely, call the state to recommend a life sentence," the prosecutor said.