New DNA Testing Reveals Innocence of Man on Florida’s Death Row and Points to Victim’s Daughter as Likely Perpetrator
Lawyers to Conduct Hearing With Compelling New Evidence for Overturning the Conviction of Clement Aguirre
Contact: Paul Cates, 212-364-5346, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alana Massie, 212-364-5983, email@example.com
(Orlando, FL; May 13, 2013) – New DNA testing reveals that Clemente Javier Aguirre-Jarquin is innocent of the 2004 murders of Cheryl Williams and Carol Bareis for which he was sentenced to death. In a hearing that begins today, his lawyers will present DNA and other evidence pointing to Williams’ daughter, who has a long history of mental illness, as the perpetrator.
“Tragically Mr. Aguirre’s lawyer never requested the DNA testing that could have proven that he was innocent as he always maintained,” said Nina Morrison, a Senior Staff Attorney with the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with the Cardozo School of Law. “But new DNA testing on multiple pieces of evidence now confirms that Mr. Aguirre was telling the truth all along, and he shouldn’t have to spend another day waiting to be put to death for a crime he didn’t commit.”
Aguirre has been on Florida’s death row since 2006 for the murders of Williams and Bareis, a mother and daughter who were found stabbed to death in their trailer in Seminole County on June 17, 2004. An undocumented Honduran, Aguirre initially told the police that he didn’t know anything about the murders. Later the same day, however, he admitted that he had gone to their home at approximately 6 AM that morning hoping to get some beer and saw that the two women had been stabbed to death. (Many people, including Mr. Aguirre and his friends, socialized with the victims at their trailer at all hours.) After discovering William’s body in the doorway of the trailer, he picked up the knife near her body because he was afraid the killer was still present. After discovering Bareis had been murdered too, he panicked, threw the knife on the ground and went home to his neighboring trailer.
At trial, the prosecution presented limited DNA evidence done in the case to show that the victim’s blood was on Aguirre’s clothes (which he voluntarily turned over to the police), shoes and the bloody knife. However, neither the prosecution nor the defense conducted testing on any of the more than 150 bloodstains that were photographed and swabbed from the crime scene. Aguirre’s lawyer didn’t even view, much less retain a forensic expert to examine, any of the 197 items of evidence that were collected in this case. Even thought the evidence was consistent with Aguirre’s version of events, which he testified to at trial, he was convicted and sentenced to death.
In August 2011, Aguirre’s new counsel at the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel – Middle Region, in consultation with the Innocence Project, sought DNA testing, which was unopposed by the state, of some of the previously-untested evidence. None of the testing of more than 84 items matched Aguirre. Most matched to the two victims, but there were two bloodstains that matched to William’s daughter (and Bareis’ granddaughter) Samantha Williams. Armed with this evidence, the legal team sought to test the remainder of the evidence. This time the state opposed testing, but the court ordered it anyway. Again none of the stains matched to Aguirre, but now there have been a total of eight different bloodstains identified as Samantha’s, which were spread out over four rooms, and each was near blood found from one of the victims.
“Mr. Aguirre is a victim of circumstance because he stumbled upon the crime and failed to report it,” said Maria DeLiberato, lead lawyer with the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel – Middle Region. “We firmly believe in his innocence, and we feel confident that after hearing the evidence the court will agree to set aside the verdict.”
At the hearing, which is expected to run from May 13 – 24, 2013, Aguirre’s lawyers will present additional evidence pointing to Samantha as the perpetrator, including:
- Testimony from a crime scene expert that the bloodstains now known to be Samantha’s were “fresh” at the time they were photographed after the murders;
- Testimony from the same expert that the blood on Clemente’s clothing and shoes does not contain the kinds of blood spatter or projected blood patterns that would be present if he had stabbed these victims at close range.
- Testimony that one of the “swiped” stains containing the mother’s blood that was deposited on the arm of a kitchen chair (i.e., after she was killed), was left by someone wearing a cotton or denim fabric that is not consistent with Clemente’s clothing (a pair of nylon shorts); and that Samantha wore long khaki pants for her job at Subway;
- Evidence that Samantha had a long history of mental illness and violence and has been involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities once by her mother before the murders and at least three times since because of her behavior;
- Evidence that Samantha made multiple statements (one of which was captured on police video) suggesting her own culpability for murders;
- Evidence that Samantha and her mother had a heated argument the night of the murder; and
- Testimony from friends and neighbors about the troubled relationship between Samantha and her mother.
Aguirre’s lawyers will ask the court to set aside the verdict based on either the new evidence, the ineffectiveness of Aguirre’s trial lawyer or actual innocence. Information about the hearing is listed below:
WHAT: Hearing to set aside the verdict of Clemente Javier Aguirre- Jarquin for the 2004 murders of Cheryl Williams and Carol Bareis based on new DNA evidence pointing to Williams’ daughter Samantha as the perpetrator.
WHEN: Monday, May 13 – Friday, May, 24 at 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: Seminole County Criminal Justice Center
101 Bush Blvd.
Sanford, FL 32773
Contact the Innocence Project for additional information about the case and a schedule of expected witnesses. Aguirre is represented by DeLiberato and Marie-Louise Samuels Parmer with the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel – Middle Region. Morrison and Co-Director Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project and Executive Director Seth Miller of the Innocence of Florida are serving as co-counsel.
The Innocence Project’s above press release about Clemente Janiver Aguirre-Jarguin, better know as ‘Shorty Aguirre, is disappointing on some issues and deceptive on others.
Samantha Williams blood turned up in DNA tests of the crime scene of the double homicide, and mention is made of her mental state and self-incrimination immediately after the homicide, but no mention is made of Ms. Williams physical condition, specifically, if she had any cuts anywhere on her body.
While officers and prosecutors could easily talk their way out of having ignored the ramblings of woman known to be mentally challenged, they wouldn’t easily be able to explain ignoring cuts, cuts that would have indicated that Samantha likely was present during the homicides, regardless of whatever she said.
The media hasn’t named Shorty’s original defenders, and the Innocence Project didn’t correct that withheld information in their release … according to page 48 of 48 of Shorty’s Seminole County Clerk of Courts “Detailed Case View,” Shorty was represented by the 18th Judicial Circuit’s Public Defenders Office.
Public defenders are elected rather than appointed in Florida, and withholding similar information is what kept 18th Judicial Circuit Public Defender James Russo in office for decades despite his deep disinterest in vigorous defenses, which destroyed many innocent lives. I’ve posted electronic correspondence to Russo on this blog, and correspondence I answered from Norm Channell, who served under Russo. If memory serves, using “apathy epistle” as a search term in the window on this page should take you to the latter.
There’s no mention in the press release of other cases the Innocence Project and Innocence Project of Florida has worked on in the 18th Judicial Circuit, which include Wilton Dedge’s and William Dillon’s DNA-exonerations, and Gary Bennett’s nearly identical, still intact frame-up. Prosecutors Chris White and/or John Dean Moxley were involved in these three cases, and Chris White was involved in Shorty’s case. The dirty tricks the prosecutorial duo routinely employed included coached jailhouse informant testimony, testimony from a discredited dog handler, misrepresentation of evidence, and more. The press release doesn’t mention that Nina Morrison and Barry Scheck personally participated in freeing Wilton Dedge, evidenced by their having appeared in the documentary After Innocence, which used Wilton’s in-progress 2004 DNA-exoneration as the film’s centerpiece. Chris White (nightmarishly) appeared in the film, too.
The Innocence Project and Innocence Project of Florida received significant funding from the Justice Department. Tax dollars. To me, that means that their every effort should reflect gratitude … leaving no stone unturned, and leaving no stone un-thrown, when appropriate.
William Dillon and Gary Bennett went before the same judge in their latest hearings. In 2008, William’s evidence arrived at Orchid Cellmark in Dallas County, Texas in suspect condition … it was unsealed. Fortunately, it was still testable for DNA, and William was excluded as a perpetrator. In 2010, Gary’s evidence arrived at the same facility in even more suspect condition than William’s … although sealed, it was untestable; “washed,” as it were. The judge had more to ignore than suspect evidence in Gary’s case … he had to ignore an incurably tainted transfer to the 9th Judicial Circuit’s prosecutors office, and he had to ignore Moxley’s attempts – on official judicial stationary – to prevent Gary’s evidence from being sent to Orchid Cellmark to begin with. The media and the public deserve to know that Shorty was tried where justice hasn’t been available … for decades.
There’s no mention of what the Florida Bar Association’s responsibilities to address prosecutorial misconduct, per the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Imbler v Pachtman in 1976. The phony expert used against Wilton, William and Gary (and used in the 9th circuit, as well) was dog handler John Preston – who was discredited by a federal court in 1982, and – redundantly – discredited within the 18th Judicial Circuit in 1987, when Judge Gilbert Goshorn skill tested Preston and found he couldn’t track anything.
Preston testified nationwide, there are likely other intact convictions with documented additional prosecutorial misconduct in other states aside from Stephen Epperly’s in Virginia. A reporter/attorney brother/sister duo – Neil and Heather Harvey – have already capitalized on pretending Preston was legit in Epperly’s case with their Hazel Hollow screenplay. The Harveys ignored my electronic letters … but they sure wouldn’t have ignored a “cease and desist” from the Innocence Project.
Epperly’s case is the only one I’m aware of that Preston expressed doubts about, publicly admitting he may have followed the wrong scent trail. It’s beside the point that Preston couldn’t follow a right or wrong trail if his life had depended upon it … what is on point is that Preston’s misgivings were published in the newspaper that Neil Harvey works for.Dog handler Keith Pikett has also been DNA-discredited, more than doubling Preston’s @1,000 participations in criminal investigations. And the Innocence Project worked on Pikett cases. To miss even one opportunity to clear clouds from thousands of convictions nationwide is unacceptable.
The Innocence Project receives significant funding from Bar associations, too, and it appears to present an insurmountable conflict. The Bar refuses to punish prosecutorial misconduct as the U.S. Supreme Court directed, and the Innocence Project refuses to take issue with the Bar’s corruption in any consistent manner. Chris White should have been permanently disbarred long ago, yet he’s still active … in the same judicial circuit where George Zimmerman is about to be “tried.”
Criminal conspiracies to keep false convictions intact are a very big deal, and it’s the FBI’s job to investigate them. On the other hand, it’s not the FBI’s job to listen to my phone conversations, or read my Facebook posts, or monitor my Google searches; unlike Chris White, John Dean Moxley, Norm Wolfinger, Jeff Ashton, Lawson Lamar, James Russo, etc., I haven’t broken any laws.
We the people who haven’t broken any laws don’t want to pay you to entertain yourselves with our day-to-day electronic conversations, we want you to ensure that only actual criminals are incarcerated, including public servants that broke laws to build phony reputations.You’ve got the blood of hundreds of innocents on your hands, FBI; it’s time to clean up your act. My blogging about the Innocence Project’s mysterious ways of writing about Shorty means nothing to them, while one call call from an FBI agent would have them scrambling to issue a succinct rewrite. Make the call, already.