Wisconsin

Father beats twin infants to death

April 13, 2008
Baraboo, Wisconsin
David Yates kills his 5-week-old infant twins

Yates, who was suffering from anxiety, had allegedly taken medication which boosted his serotonin levels. If such levels are too high, a person can experience serotonin syndrome, which was reportedly the reason behind the twins’ murders. Symptoms of moderate serotonin intoxication can include hypervigilance (which itself can lead to anxiety), agitation, and increased heart rate among others.

Yates had previously had domestic violence charges brought against him by the twins’ mother, but had been taking anger management classes and showed signs of improvement. The mother also noted Yates had been loving towards her older children from a previous marriage, which is why she felt comfortable leaving her children with their father while she returned to work, though she was clear that she was not defending Yates or his actions.

On April 13, the twins’ mother knocked on Yates’ door to collect the children; there was no answer. Assuming he had taken the children somewhere, she returned at a later time though he still did not answer the door. She returned again, this time with a police officer.

The police officer responding to the scene had to wake Yates and then restrain him when he grabbed a pair of scissors. It was around this time he noticed a small foot under the bed. Investigating further, he noticed the tiny bodies of Tyler and Savannah Yates piled on top of each other.

During trial, the officer described the wounds he saw on the children, and had to stop to regain composure. A pathologist later gave further details of the injuries, which included blunt force trauma to the head, multiple scrapes and bruises, a broken foot, and injuries to the chests. When the coroner testified the bodies were so small the children were placed into cardboard boxes, instead of body bags, their mother had to leave the courtroom to compose herself.

Though Yates’ attorney advised him to plea not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, due to the inflated levels of serotonin in his system, Yates refused. He was sentenced to 2 life sentences to be served consecutively without the possibility of parole.

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