ALL Child Killers Should Get Life Without Parole, Like David Yates Did!
A chance meeting...
I have been quite involved with online activism following my experiences. Part of my work has involved forming a network of survivors on Facebook. In 2010, I "met" a remarkable woman named Susan Bird-Winbun. Her story was tragic, and yet she inspires me no end. Here is her story:
On the 13th of April, 2008, David R. Yates murdered his twin babies, Tyler and Savannah Yates. They were 5 weeks old.
Yates was charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide after a police officer was called to his Lake Street home on April 13, 2008, to check on the children's welfare, according to court records. After repeated attempts to contact Yates, the officer said he entered the home and found Yates in a very groggy state and claiming the children had been picked up by a friend.
The officer searched the bedroom and found 5-week-old Tyler and Savannah Yates lying atop one another under the bed. During a preliminary hearing, a pathologist testified the children died of blunt force injuries to their heads.
At trial, Yates' defense attorney tried to plant doubt in jurors' minds with the theory Bird-Winbun could have dosed vegetable dip on Yates' kitchen counter with his own prescription anti-depressant to incapacitate him. The attorney argued she then could have killed the children herself, likely with the aid of a co-conspirator, he theorized.
University of Wisconsin-Madison forensic pathologist Robert Corliss testified at the trial, describing the injuries inflicted on the twins. Savannah Yates suffered at least four blows and her twin, Tyler Yates, was also subjected to crushing force that fractured five ribs along his spine.
Using pen on drawings of boy and girl children, Corliss described where on each child's head, torso and extremities he located a variety of serious abrasions and contusions.
Savannah Yates had some unusually long abrasions around the base of her neck caused by friction, he said. "These are classically inflicted, often, by an item of clothing with a collar," he said. "I see these in fights when someone grabs someone's shirt."
Both children had dot-like lesions where they suffered bleeding under the skin that Corliss called "overstretch hemorrhaging." This means the skin was stretched and small blood vessels broke, but the skin didn't tear.
"Where you classically see these is in the abdomen and groin folds of pedestrians struck by automobiles when they get thoracic whiplash, when they arch their back so significantly (backward)," he said.
While examining Tyler's back, Corliss found five of the child's ribs were fractured near the spine, and he also had bleeding on the front of his heart.
Holding a piece of paper rolled into a cylinder, Corliss demonstrated for the jury how the injuries could be caused by someone squeezing the child's chest, pushing the breastbone back toward the heart and spine.
"It often is done with the hand," he said. "Posterior rib fractures are very specific for (child) abusive injuries."
Despite their many other injuries, Corliss said it was blunt force trauma to the head, including skull fractures, that killed both children.
When he opened their skulls, both had signs of extensive bleeding on the surface of their brains. Deeper examination of the brain tissue showed areas of severe bleeding, he said.
The injuries to the children’s brains were acute, Corliss said, meaning they died immediately or very soon after suffering the blows. Anything that caused a sudden movement of the children’s heads — and the brain to strike the inside of their skulls — could do it, such as a backhand blow or karate chop.
Corliss said there was no doubt that the manner of the children’s death was homicide.
Despite the overwhelming evidence against Yates, it was never a certainty that he would receive a punishment to fit the crime. Adults who murder and abuse children are far more likely to get a less severe punishment than an adult who committed the same crime to another adult.
Thankfully, on Oct. 19, 2 1/2 years later, a jury found Yates guilty on two counts of first-degree murder for killing the infants. He was sentenced to serve two consecutive life prison terms without parole.
AngelAgents of Light
Hi!! I'm Mel, the mild mannered alter ego of the superhero Sal, (short for safe-at-last / Salander / Secret Agent of the Light). My inspirational friend, Susan Bird-Winbun, and I are just 2 of an army of many AngelAgents who are together standing tall to fight side by side to stop the injustices inflicted on ourselves, our kids, and abused mums and kids everywhere! Hear us ROAR!
"We are dedicated to fight for all those innocent children who have suffered or are suffering as a result of the gross perversions of justice that are permitted by those who are meant to protect them. We are committed to wage a war on behalf of such children, and we refuse to stand silent as they are let down by a system that allows itself to be manipulated by selfish, unrepentant perpetrators of abuse, when instead it should be protecting those who are unable to protect themselves. May our voices combine into a resounding shout, as we demand reforms to ineffectual laws that in reality constitute institutional abuse. We will not rest until changes are made to Criminal and Family Laws so that our Justice System can in fact serve it's true purpose: In criminal Law, ensuring the punishment fits the crime and therefore detering other criminals from offending, and in Family Law, ensuring that there are no violations of the first and foremost Rights of our Children - Their Right to be protected from harm, and to live with out fear, in the warm, safe embrace of unconditional love!"
The Twin's Mother's Battle for Justice
Susan Bird-Winbun's painful journey began late on April 13, 2008, when she went to pick up the twins from their father, David R. Yates of Baraboo, and got no response to repeated knocking. A Baraboo police officer found Yates lethargic and confused a short time later. After entering the house a second time, the officer found the babies battered to death under Yates' bed.
A Baraboo ambulance paramedic testified that Susan was screaming inconsolably that evening after learning the fate of her children.
The twin's mother pleaded for convicted murderer David R. Yates to acknowledge his crime and said that he should receive the maximum penalty of life in prison for each of their murdered children, 5-week-old Tyler and Savannah Yates.
As you can imagine, it was a bitter sweet victory for Susan when Yates received 2 consecutive life sentences for his crimes.
Susan endured the brutal murder of her 5-week-old twins, years of legal delays in the case as well as nearly a three-week trial, and yet she remains intact. She says it is her ability to look to the future that makes her a survivor, rather than a third victim of that heinous crime.
Over the months of interacting with Susan on Facebook, I have come to realize a few things: Though I have never "met" Susan face to face and probably never will, she is somebody who I cherish having "met". I feel very privileged to know Susan, and I can say that she is someone I will NEVER forget. She is a remarkable woman and an inspiration to myself and thousands of others.
Susan may have endured hell many times over, but it has not dulled her spirit. In fact, her LIGHT shines brighter than ever. Susan has her ups and downs - her good days and her bad days (don't we all?) but overall she remains positive, upbeat, empathetic, motivated, and "driven".
She also has an AMAZING sense of humor. Many people who have suffered a tragedy feel it is not "OK" to laugh, as though by finding humor in life, they are betraying the memory of those they have lost. While I can understand this, I also think it is a very negative outlook. Women like Susan who can continue to laugh will always have my utmost respect. It is through unconditional love, and many, frequent doses of laughter that she has helped her other children to overcome their own grief. After all, laughter IS the best medicine!
(I am also reminded of a quote by Bill Cosby: "Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it. ")
Laughter is not all that Susan has though. She has a sense of purpose that gives her direction. By fighting to toughen penalties for those who abuse and murder children, Susan says she has made a new future for her self.
Susan says the tragedy provides a direction for the rest of her life, and she has committed to being an advocate for tougher penalties for people who abuse or kill children. "In Wisconsin, on average an adult who murders a child sits (in prison) less than 25 years," she said. "That's not justice."
Utah resident, Audra Bennion, met Bird-Winbun through her Facebook page - Murder Is Murder, No Matter How Small The Victim. She was then inspired to create a You Tube video tribute to the infants on Susan's behalf. Audra also set up a Web page for her at www.murderismurder.com. Audra said she experienced an abusive marriage that led to her loss of custody of her children for a time. The two women share a passion for protecting children from abuse.
Please get behind these 2 women as they quest for justice. Details of their quest are below:
Murder is Murder. (Warriors for Justice)
About: We believe the value of a child's life should not be based on their age. By working together we will raise awareness about this travesty in the justice system until our voices are too loud and too many to be ignored!
Mission: Our mission is to increase the minimum sentences and to eradicate the possibility of parole and/or early release options given to adults who murder and abuse children in every state and country possible. We will be pushing for the federal government to create a national registry (similar to the sex offender registry) to be made mandatory for adults convicted of crimes against children. By petitioning the government to make these much needed and easily justified changes we will force the perpetrators of these evil deeds out of anonymity and hold them accountable for their actions. Our mission is to get TRUE justice for all child victims.
Last (but not least) I would like to share my own tribute to Tyler and Savannah. I wrote this poem the day after Yates received his sentence. My heart goes out to Susan, she will always be an inspiration to me.
RIP Tyler & Savannah - Twin Fallen Angels -
A monster was sentenced to life today
An evil demon put forever away
Justice, thankfully, has finally been done
The Light prevailed this time, and won
Two cherished spirits at last set free
Two little Angels now in heaven be
But bitter sweet is this moment in time
A sad, painful victory for those left to cry
As one, we still cannot comprehend
Such vile depravity and vicious intent
Perhaps time will ease your mum's heavy heart
But no justice can make up for her tragic loss
Her love for you we will always see
Unconditional, eternal, as a parent's love should be
His double life sentence without parole
Will never replace your cherished souls
But now that justice has had its say
Darkness and chaos can have their way
Through the tears we shed, we also smile
A thousand hearts sing out as we look up on high
We sing our love as we say farewell
And hope you hear us from where you dwell
With so many voices our song will surely go far
I'm sure it will reach you among the stars
You were, and will always be, much loved and cherished
In our hearts and our minds you will live on forever
Those precious memories will help others too
Your Light will inspire us in what we now do
Your mum has already embarked on a quest
We're so proud of her and wish her the best
So we'll all pitch in and fight the fight too
A battle for justice for angels like you
Now, there is one more thing I want to say to you
Something I want your mum to hear too
It is not forever that we say goodbye
It's only for now, just for a little while
You and your mum shall once again meet
Yes, one day, up in the sky you will greet
Until then may your souls soar up high
Your spirits now free to roam far and wide
Other than that, we just want to say, please
May you both always Rest in Peace
(Please read more about Tyler and Savannah here:
Murder is Murder. (Warriors for Justice)
Please join me on FaceBook
- STOP the Violence Against Women & Children
Organize to Resist! Together we can take on the Predators! Let's Break the Silence to End the Violence by working together to make our voices a Resounding SHOUT!!! Perpetrators BEWARE - you don't stand a chance!
All names in this article have been changed for legal purposes and to protect the privacy of the Author. Except where otherwise credited, or where text forms part of an external link, this article is under the following copyright:
Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last", of Perth, Western Australia. All rights reserved.
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Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last" and Licensors Nodtronics Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.