Doctor who evaluated Henning at center of Yates controversy

AUDIO Phone interview with Gary Mitchell regarding Texas Court of Appeals ruling that reversed murder convictions against Andrea Yates.

Park Dietz (AP Photo)

A Texas Court of Appeals last week threw out the murder convictions against Andrea Yates, the woman accused of drowning her children in a bathtub. The court found that state’s witness Dr. Park Elliot Dietz, a forensic pychiatrist, had given erroneous testimony in the case.

Dietz is also linked to the Hossencofft case (as chronicled in the book
September Sacrifice). In 2001, he evaluated Linda Henning and found her to be sane and a narcissist. He later told the History Channel’s Dead Reckoning that Henning may have been brainwashed by Diazien Hossencofft. Dietz was paid $500 an hour for his work in the Hossencofft case. While he did not testify in the Henning trial, he’d agreed to make himself available to do so if her defense had claimed she was insane at the time of Girly Chew Hossencofft’s murder.

Dietz is also a consultant for the television drama Law & Order. In the Yates trial, he testified that an episode of that TV program had told a story of a woman who had drowned her kids but was found innocent due to insanity. Other witnesses testified that Yates had watched Law & Order, allowing the prosecution to suggest that Yates had plotted to fashion the murders and her defense in the same manner. However, there never was such an episode. It is this inconsistency that prompted the Texas Court of Appeals to throw out the Yates’s murder convictions.

Attorney Gary Mitchell and his client Linda Henning on September 23, 2002.
Attorney Gary Mitchell and his client Linda Henning on September 23, 2002.

On Friday, January 7, 2005, I interviewed Henning’s attorney, Gary Mitchell, about the development in the Yates case. The interview was conducted over the telephone.

In the Henning case, her longtime friend Steve Zachary said Sunday he’d first read about the inconsistency in Dietz’s Yates testimony in a 2002 New York Post article.

Zachary said he’d sent copies of the article to the prosecution, defense attorney and judge in Henning’s case prior to the completion of her trial (Zachary has also previously sent a copy of the article to this author).

Zachary said he’d also included a copy of a New York Times feature article on Dietz in which the forensic psychiatrist had said that he not only examines the issues of a crime but extensively researches a defendant’s life history. Zachary has long-maintained that Henning was mentally compromised by Diazien Hossencofft, believing that she was drugged, hypnotized or brainwashed.

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