Texas mother of 5 whose murder conviction was overturned to receive $500K from the state
ABC News(SAN ANTONIO) — Hannah Overton, a south Texas mother of five whose wrongful conviction for the 2006 death of her foster son was overturned last year, is expected to receive over $500,000 in compensation from the state for the years she spent in jail.
“I’m very thankful that this compensation is finally coming through,” Overton told ABC News. “No amount of money will ever bring back the years that were taken away, and the seven years of freedom I lost. I could never thank my attorneys enough for fighting endlessly to prove my innocence and bring me home.”
According to Overton’s attorney, Cynthia Orr, the Texas comptroller told Overton on Tuesday that she would receive a check for $573,333.33 as compensation her for her wrongful incarceration. She is also qualified to receive insurance and education benefits. Beginning next year, she will also receive an annuity.
“I am over the moon that Hannah has been granted compensation by Texas for her wrongful imprisonment,” Orr told ABC News. “She and her family do so much good with nothing. This small benefit will allow her and her sweet family to continue to share their goodness with all of us with some degree of comfort. It is a small thing for one who has suffered so greatly.”
Hannah Overton, who has long maintained her innocence, spent seven years in prison for the young child’s death. The salt poisoning case earned international attention because many believed she was wrongfully convicted and her story was featured in the 2017 documentary, “Until Proven Innocent.” ABC News has followed Overton’s and her husband’s story since her original 2007 trial.
In May 2017, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez officially declared Overton innocent in the death of 4-year-old Andrew Burd, the child Overton and her husband, Larry Overton, were in the process of adopting before he died more than 10 years ago. That official statement granted her access to state funds that are provided to the wrongfully convicted and also prevented her from being tried for the crime again.
Overton was convicted of capital murder after being accused of force-feeding Burd enough sodium to kill him. The prosecution portrayed her as a mother who had lost control and tried to punish the young boy by giving him seasoning mixed in water. At the time, Overton had four children and was pregnant with a fifth, and had no prior trouble with the law.
The defense presented the jury with a medical mystery. They speculated Andrew might have had pica, an eating disorder characterized by an obsessive appetite and that Andrew accidentally poisoned himself by consuming a fatal amount of sodium.
Larry Overton was also charged with murder, but after his wife’s conviction, he was offered a plea deal and was given probation. After he completed his probation, the charges were dismissed.
Overton was released on bond in December 2014 after a Texas appellate court overturned her conviction and life sentence. But former Nueces County District Attorney Mark Skurka charged Overton a second time for murder after her release.
Those charges were not considered double jeopardy because Overton’s conviction was overturned by the higher court on the basis of ineffective counsel, which granted her a new trial. Overton’s original trial attorneys admitted at an appeals hearing that they had made errors.
Skurka ended up dropping the new case against her in 2015 but Overton remained in legal limbo until Gonzalez officially declared her innocence last year, thus closing a significant chapter on this decade-long case.
“After further review of all the evidence and meeting with her defense attorneys and everyone involved, my office decided that we’re going to dismiss the case and include language in there that would actually indicate that she’s not guilty of the charge that we charged her with, or the previous administration,” Gonzalez said at the time.
The Overtons live in East Texas and told ABC News they have housed and supported prisoners after their release through their non-profit organization, Syndeo Ministries.
“I also could never begin to thank those who supported us, prayed and prayed for us, and walked with us along the entire way,” Overton said.
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