Lindsey Boney, an attorney in Bradley’s Birmingham office, argued before the Florida Supreme Court on April 7, 2016, to request a new trial for Clemente Javier Aguirre-Jarquin of Altamonte Springs, Florida. Aguirre had been on death row since 2006 for the double stabbing murders of two women in 2004.
Aguirre, who was the victims’ neighbor, was arrested after he reported finding the bodies. Before his 2006 conviction, Aguirre repeatedly requested DNA and other forensic testing to show that he is innocent of the crimes. His court-appointed trial counsel refused.
After being convicted, Aguirre was appointed new counsel for his post-conviction proceedings. Working with the New York-based Innocence Project, those newly appointed attorneys uncovered a host of evidence that strongly points to Aguirre’s innocence. After the trial court denied a request for a new trial on the basis of that new evidence, the Innocence Project asked Bradley attorneys to represent Aguirre in his appeal to the Florida Supreme Court. Boney and Bradley attorneys Kevin Newsom, who formerly served as Alabama’s Solicitor General, and Ashley Burkett have represented the 37-year-old Aguirre pro bono since 2013.
On appeal, the Bradley attorneys pointed to the compelling new evidence to vacate Aguirre’s conviction and death sentence. The new evidence of Aguirre’s innocence was staggering. None of the 150 items of newly tested crime-scene evidence contained Aguirre’s DNA. Instead, eight crime-scene bloodstains contained the DNA of one of the victims’ daughter, who has since confessed to the murders numerous times.
In addition, new forensic evidence – which Aguirre’s trial counsel also refused to pursue – revealed that Aguirre’s clothes could not have been worn by the murderer. This previously untested evidence not only excludes Aguirre but also points strongly to the other suspect.
The Bradley attorneys wrote numerous briefs over the course of nearly three years, and Boney argued to the Florida Supreme Court that the powerful new evidence casts reasonable doubt on Aguirre’s conviction. Boney contended that Aguirre deserved a new trial so he could be represented, for the first time, by competent trial counsel.
In November 2016, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously reversed Aguirre’s convictions and ordered a new trial. Bradley will remain Aguirre’s counsel through his retrial, which is expected in late 2017.
“For capital punishment to have legitimacy, our system has to ensure, as much as is possible, that only those who are truly guilty face execution. This case tests those foundations,” Boney says.
“Representing Clemente Aguirre has really given life to the old adage that ‘lawyers serve,’” he continues. “As a lawyer, it’s been an incredibly satisfying experience to represent someone who sits on death row, wrongfully convicted, with such a positive outlook on life. I feel privileged to be part of the team that, truly for the first time, is giving Mr. Aguirre a chance to prove that he is actually innocent of these crimes.”