Yates Plea Bargain - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

09/27/06 - Nacogdoches

Yates Plea Bargain

by Donna McCollum

Darrell Yates III had no comment or emotion about his plea agreement. Tuesday he starts a 15 year sentence for injury to a child, tampering with evidence and bigamy.   He's been in jail since December for the capital murder of the son of a woman he married illegally.

Pamela Martin was in tears. She had just left a courtroom stand where she confronted Yates about the death of her grandson. She held baby Harold Harris' photograph and said to Yates, "This is all I have. Now all I have is an autopsy report." Afterwards, Martin directed her anger toward the judicial system. "I'm mad at the system. Yeah, he played it. He used it." 

Last October Yates and Amber McEntire disappeared supposedly with the child. Family members suspected the baby was in harm's way, but authorities didn't issue a public plea about the disappearance until a week later. In early November a child rescue organization found the decomposed body within 100 yards from the couple's home. America's Most Wanted got involved. A month later Yates and McEnitire were arrested on the Mexican border.

From the beginning Martin has questioned the investigation.  Martin said, "I'm mad at law enforcement. They send 15 people down here to bring one guy and they couldn't find five to go out there and look for him. He sat there and decomposed while they sat on there (deleted) and did nothing."

Sheriff Thomas Kerss was unavailable for comment. In earlier interviews he said when the disappearance was initially reported there was no evidence of foul play.

District Attorney Stephanie Stephens comments are guarded. She's preparing for co defendant Amber McEntire's court proceedings. Stephens explained, "All I can do is precede with the evidence that exists in a case. I can't make evidence where there's not evidence. I can't create things that aren't there." Martin said, "I don't blame her. She wasn't given anything to work with. She didn't have evidence. "

Yates escaped a possible life sentence. He received 15 years for injury to a child for failure to seek medical treatment when Harris lost consciousness. And ten years for moving the body and fifteen years for bigamy,but the most he'll spend behind bars is 15 years as all sentences run together. We still don't know officially what led to baby Harris' last breath.   

Amber McEntire's pre trial is set for this Friday. Back in July McEntire had a baby girl who was placed with an adoptive family. McEntire's mother was present in the courtroom for Yate's plea, but did not want to comment for this story.

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