Ten years after being wrongfully convicted, Florida prisoner leaves death row

Share:

He spent 14 years, 10 of them on death row, and on Monday, Florida prosecutors announced they would not proceed with a retrial for Clemente Javier Aguirre for the murder of two people in 2004.

An immigrant from Honduras with no criminal history, Aguirre was convicted of killing his former neighbors, Cheryl Williams and her mother, Carole Bareis, and was sentenced to death in 2006.

His conviction was unanimously overturned by the Florida Supreme Court in 2016, based on new evidence that was never presented to the jury, including “DNA testing of multiple pieces of crime scene evidence that exculpated Aguirre and implicated another suspect—the victims’ daughter and granddaughter, Samantha Williams,” the Innocence Project, which represented Aguirre, said in a statement. The Innocence Project also said the state supreme court learned that after Aguirre’s conviction, Williams had confessed the crime to several friends and acquaintances.

In spite of the new evidence and the fact that the 38-year-old Aguirre had maintained his innocence from the time he was arrested, the state attorney had announced his office would not only retry Aguirre, but would also again seek the death penalty. Monday’s decision to drop all charges “came after additional evidence undermining Williams’ alibi and further implicating her emerged in recent pretrial proceedings,” according to the Innocence Project.

“Mr. Aguirre was nearly executed for a crime he didn’t commit,” the Innocence Project’s Joshua Dubin, one of Aguirre’s lead trial attorneys, stated. “While we are overjoyed that his ordeal is finally over, the case of Clemente Aguirre should serve as a chilling cautionary tale about how dangerous it is when there is a rush to judgment in a capital case.”

Aguirre’s troubles aren’t over, however. While he is free on bond, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has placed an immigration hold on him, raising the possibility that he will be deported because he is undocumented, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“If there were ever a person that deserved a chance to become a United States citizen, it is Clemente Aguirre,” Dubin told the paper.

You might also be interested in...

The tragic case of Kevin Johnson, set to be killed by Missouri this month

Missouri killed Kevin Johnson on Tuesday evening. He was sentenced to death for killing Kirkwood police officer Sgt. William McEntee...
Read More

Tennessee’s shameful and shocking treatment of Henry Hodges

A judge’s order late last month means a man on Tennessee’s death row, who slit his wrists before severing his...
Read More

Oklahoma high court denies both of Glossip’s petitions for a hearing on new evidence

In one week, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied two petitions filed by Richard Glossip for an evidentiary hearing...
Read More