Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP attorneys Kevin Newsom, Lindsey Boney, and Ashley Burkett represented Clemente Javier Aguirre-Jarquin, of Altamonte Springs, Florida, in a successful appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, which yesterday unanimously vacated Mr. Aguirre’s murder conviction and ordered a new trial. Mr. Aguirre has been on death row since 2006 for the double stabbing murders of two women in 2004.
Mr. Boney had argued to the Florida Supreme Court in April 2016 that powerful new DNA evidence cast reasonable doubt on Mr. Aguirre’s conviction and that he deserved a new trial.
In reaching its decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled, in a 7–0 opinion, that the new DNA evidence, coupled with “numerous, unequivocal confessions” from the daughter/ granddaughter of the victims, Samantha Williams, that she committed the murders, so “substantially weakens the case against Aguirre” that the only “result is reasonable doubt as to Aguirre’s culpability.” The court wrote that “adding the new evidence to the picture changes the focus entirely: No longer is Aguirre the creepy figure who appears over Samantha’s bed in the middle of the night; he is now the scapegoat for her crimes.” A copy of the court’s decision is available here.
“The Florida Supreme Court’s unanimous decision is a decisive vindication for Mr. Aguirre, who has always maintained his innocence,” said Mr. Boney. “The court recognized that there is now, undeniably, overwhelming evidence that someone else murdered these women and a whole host of newly discovered evidence showing that Mr. Aguirre couldn't have committed these crimes. We are relieved for Mr. Aguirre, who has suffered for 10 long years on death row for a crime that he did not commit, but there is still work to do to ensure that he is fully and finally vindicated, and ultimately granted his freedom.”
Before his 2006 trial, Mr. Aguirre repeatedly requested DNA and other forensic testing to show that he is innocent of the crimes. His appointed trial counsel refused. In the years since trial, investigators conducted DNA testing on certain crime-scene evidence for the first time, and none of the approximately 150 items tested contained Mr. Aguirre’s DNA. Instead, eight crime-scene bloodstains—found within inches of the victims’ blood—revealed the DNA of one of the victims’ daughter/granddaughter, who has since confessed to the murders on several occasions. Additionally, new forensic evidence has revealed that Mr. Aguirre’s clothes could not have been worn by the murderer.
The Bradley attorneys have represented Mr. Aguirre pro bono since 2013, when Nina Morrison at the Innocence Project asked them to assist with the appeal. They agreed to take the case after they learned of the extensive and compelling new DNA evidence. Since then, they have worked closely with the Innocence Project and other lawyers, including Maria DeLiberato, at the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel (Middle Region) in Tampa.
The Innocence Project press release: http://www.innocenceproject.org/florida-high-court-reverses-death-row-conviction/
Contact: Vivian Hood