People in a Baraboo courtroom broke out in expressions of joy, sobbing and hugs Tuesday as a judge sentenced David R. Yates to two consecutive life sentences for killing his twin infants.
Yates has no hope of parole
A jury imported from Portage County found Yates guilty Tuesday morning
of two counts of intentional homicide after only a few hours of deliberation. Judge James Evenson later sentenced Yates to life in prison.
Over 10 days of testimony Yates' attorney, John M. Brinckman of Onalaska, tried to pin the crime on the children's mother, Susan Winbun. Brinckman argued that Winbun could have drugged Yates with his own prescription anti-depressant, then killed the children herself after midnight, probably with the help of a male accomplice.
The case went to the jury late Monday afternoon. By 9 a.m. Tuesday, the panel had found Yates guilty of both counts.
During a sentencing hearing an hour later, Winbun's adopted daughter Betsy Sullivan addressed the court. "Tyler and Savannah were with us for five weeks, and they were beautiful, beautiful angels," she told Yates as he glared at her. "I'm glad you're getting what you deserve, because Tyler and Savannah did not deserve what you gave them."
Winbun pleaded for Yates to admit his crime and said she hopes eventually to forgive him.
"Just because you're forgiven doesn't mean you shouldn't be punished," she said. "Judge Evenson, for what he's done to my family ... he deserves nothing less than life in prison."
Barrett asked the judge to impose life prison terms for each child consecutively, with Yates' earliest opportunity to apply for supervised release in 80 years. She said the rage he demonstrated in killing the children was "terrifying."
"I believe the public has every reason to assume that this court will protect all others from David Yates," Barrett said.
Given his chance to speak, Yates insisted he was innocent.
He pointed to problems with trial evidence, such as a Baraboo police detective destroying a smudged fingerprint while collecting DNA from Yates' cell phone. Though the judge ruled the detective acted properly, Yates said it was the sort of thing that would eventually have the guilty verdicts overturned.
"I did not murder my children," he said. "I think the jury made a decision based on what they were shown and what they saw and what they heard."
Evenson rejected Yates' assertion of innocence. He pointed to the pathologists' report that Tyler was killed as long as two hours before his sister.
"Two young, innocent, helpless individuals were essentially battered to death," he said. "It was in no way accidental.
"What occurred here over a period of time was two calculated motions that took the lives of these two children."