Update on the Hannah Overton Case

Five days ago, we happily posted here that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had overturned Hannah Overton’s conviction for murdering her 4-year-old stepson by salt poisoning.  The basis for the ruling was ineffective assistance of counsel, and we bemoaned the fact that the court let the prosecutor off the hook for egregious Brady violations.

Well … the happy ending is still a long way off.  The day after our posting, on October 18, 2014, Nueces County DA Mark Skurka announced that his office will retry Hannah Overton.

Given the evidence that the prosecutor had early on, and did not disclose to the defense, Overton never should have been charged in the first place. This was a “crime” that never happened.

Read the full story by Pamela Colloff for the Texas Monthly here.

If you can read Colloff’s article through, and not be bristling with anger, then you just don’t understand, or you need to read it again, or you’re just on the wrong blog.

12 responses to “Update on the Hannah Overton Case

  1. Mr. Locke, Thank you for staying on top of the Hannah Overton, Texas, case. Once again, this is a woman, where no crime happened. Now, who will step forward right the wrong in this manifest injustice done to Hannah, her children and family?

    • In 2009, Hannah Overton, TX, Courtney Bisbee,AZ, Ryan Ferguson, MO, the Scott Sisters, MS were some of the cases featured in the video of our first
      Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted – a grassroots nationwide innocence movement. We will never give up fighting to get the innocent out of prisons across America!

      Camille Tilley
      Arizona Director/Founder, 2009-present.
      http://FreedomMarchUSA.org

  2. Thank you, Mr. Locke, for posting the simple truth: there was no crime committed in the tragic, accidental death of this child.

    Until my niece Hannah’s case, I was oblivious to fact that some who are innocent are convicted, imprisoned and even executed in the US and other “developed” countries. While I still want to believe the majority of those convicted are factually guilty, I am horrified by the number of wrongful convictions as evidenced by the many exonerations and expert estimates of as many as 10% of the incarcerated being actually innocent.

    We have lost so much: the presumption of innocence, prosecutors who pursue justice rather than convictions, law enforcement with integrity, solid forensic science.

    The only way to restore the public’s faith in the justice system is for that very system to move quickly to correct its errors and learn from them to avoid more wrongful convictions in the future.

    I am grateful for this site, and grateful for the many who have come to speak up for Hannah.

    And I echo my fellow justice warrior, Camille Tilley, in saying we will not rest until all the innocents are free.

  3. I commented on the Texas Monthly piece, but C.T. suggested that I comment here as well, since I was at the motion for new trial hearing 7 years ago.

    I was sitting at counsel table with Cynthia Orr, where I had a perfect perch to observe the proceedings, although I am in no way suggesting that I had much if anything to do with the success of that hearing. That was 110% Cynthia Orr.

    I was stunned when the lead prosecutor totally melted down on the witness stand. When you are caught in that many huge lies in a capital murder case, I guess one way to deal with it is to go off the rails mentally. It looked like a nervous breakdown was unfolding right before my eyes.

    The second huge moment came when it was brought to light that the prosecution suppressed evidence that a state’s consulting expert said he thought this was an accident. Cynthia got the state to admit everything necessary for a successful Brady claim: that they withheld this exculpatory piece of evidence, and that they considered it material to the innocence or guilt of the defendant.

    The most disturbing moment was when the trial judge said at the conclusion of the hearing, which I thought Cynthia had won, that he would make his decision later, and that it would not be based upon politics. I don’t know if the court reporter took that comment down or not, because it was at the end of the hearing; but it got my full attention. What usually runs through one’s head when you hear a comment like that at the end of a hearing you think the defense cleanly won is, Oh, my God, the judge is not going to do the right thing.

    My fears were justified. The State of Texas, Nueces County, the state Court of Appeals, and the trial court have failed to do the right thing at every possible juncture until this Court of Criminal Appeals decision. Apparently, years later, Cynthia won a state habeas hearing; and the judge continued to deny the obvious: that Hannah Overton had been denied a fair trial from the get-go. It was obvious at that hearing on motion for new trial 7 years ago, and it is just as obvious now.

    The state’s theory from the beginning, that this woman intentionally murdered a young child with a salt overdose, defies reason. I’ve worked on a hundred murder cases, as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, and that may be the most far-fetched theory of intentional murder I have ever heard. When a child dies under strange circumstances, and there is no simple explanation, the state usually goes after the caregiver, whether there is any evidence of a crime or not. Prosecutors seem to abhor a vacuum, when maybe the simplest explanation is the correct one: the kid ate too much salt and died.

    The new lead prosecutor’s assertion that he has to try Hannah Overton again is just insane. That she has never been found “not guilty” before is irrelevant. At this juncture, Hannah Overton is presumed innocent; she is not presumed guilty because she was so found in a previous and totally unfair proceeding rife with prosecutorial misconduct. That is a legally and factually insufficient reason to try Hannah Overton again. It makes me wonder if anybody who works for Nueces County knows any law at all.

  4. Andrew was Hannah’s Foster son and the adoption was pending. A stepson would be a child of her husbands, but not her biological child. That said, the prosecutor in her case should be fired. She railroaded Hannah and suppressed evidence.
    I find it disturbing that she was convicted. My sons have had fever, vomiting and felt sick plenty of times when they were little. 1 hour and 49 minutes is hardly “withholding” medical care. How many mothers can say they call 911 or rush to the hospital with the symptoms Andrew displayed,min under 2 hours?
    Come on! With 4 kids already, she had seen plenty of puke and poop!
    Send Hannah home! Lock up that witch who preverted the system.
    (Please insert the “b” word above if you like, I did)

  5. She is going to be home for Christmas. Her bail was set at $50K. Praising the Lord. 🙂

  6. The is amazing news! Hannah is going home for Christmas. It seems like a miracle after all these years. See Hannah in our Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted video, along with Ryan Ferguson, MO, the Scott sisters, Raye Dawn Smith, Courtney Bisbee, and others we’ve worked years to free from prison. http://FreedomMarchUSA.org

    Camille Tilley
    Director/Founder 2009-present
    Freedom March for the Wrongfully Convicted – a grassroots nationwide innocence movement launched at the state capitols and major cities in 2009.

  7. Mark Skurka, Judge Longoria, and Sandra Eastwood should each loose his and her license to practice law due to the crooked manner in which each handled this case. Let each find employment elsewhere in the working world, not in legal matter such as these where citizens are at their mercy because each has proven his and her intent to do wrong and harm citizens who are law abiding.

  8. Pingback: Hannah Overton Capital Murder Case Dismissed | Wrongful Convictions Blog

  9. How can crap like this happen in this day and age!!! Too many crooked prosecutors! I hope this family is so blessed in the end!

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