Texas has a reputation for doling out pretty harsh treatment when it comes to murder. Apparently - in Austin, anyway - exceptions will be made if the victim is devalued enough.
Last Friday, Katherine "Kim" Yarbrough received ten years of probation in a plea bargain. Yarbrough had admitted to killing her husband, Lloyd Yarbrough. Nevertheless, she was allowed to plead to "injury to a disabled individual."
From the article in the Austin-American Statesman:
Police say Yarbrough admitted killing her husband, Lloyd, 62, by injecting his feeding tube with an assortment of crushed prescription pills. She then swallowed some drugs of her own, police have said. A police officer found the couple in bed May 27 at their home on Meadowview Lane, near Lamar and Research boulevards in North Austin.
Here is what the authorities have to say about the plea deal:
Outside court Friday, prosecutor Amy Meredith said that considering the facts of the case and Yarbrough's clean criminal history, District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did not think that a prison term was warranted.
Meredith noted that for years when selecting jurors in murder cases, prosecutors had used an example similar to Yarbrough's — when one spouse kills another to end that spouse's suffering — as a type of murder case that might warrant a probation sentence. (emphasis added.)
The problem with that rationale - and its reported in the article, but not as a problem, is that Kim Yarbrough never claimed to have killed her husband to end his suffering:
She blogged about her frustrations with outside caregivers and a lack of a support system.
"I wonder if I will ever change Lloyd's diaper without feeling the pain of what has been lost," she blogged four days before his death.
Two days before his death, she wrote, "Why should I keep living through all this?"
While in the hospital, Yarbrough was interviewed by police. According to an arrest affidavit, she told an officer that she killed her husband "because she was tired of taking care of him." When an officer asked her if Lloyd Yarbrough wanted to die, she said "no," the affidavit said. (emphasis added.)
There is no way to reconcile Kim Yarbrough's statements to the police with the statements of the prosecutor attempting to explain this plea bargain. I guess they figure in Austin that if you're a "caregiver" you also get to end that role, in whatever way you see fit. I guess they figure that killing someone as disabled as Lloyd Yarbrough isn't the same as a "real" murder.
If you think I'm being too harsh, several of the comments to this story have people praising this woman - evidently they don't know how to read or they don't think what Lloyd Yarbrough wanted mattered. --Stephen Drake
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Texas: Murder of Disabled Spouse Yields Probation for Wife
This is a reprint of the blog entry by Stephen Drake from Not Dead Yet. This is a very important blog entry.