Campfire

Episode 9:
State of Texas
vs.
Hannah Overton

 

Time Served: 7 Years
Status: Exonerated, 2017

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Abuse of Power:
Prosecutorial Misconduct, Concealing of Evidence

“That’s like the most horrible experience in the world. To know that one of your children is dying and you can’t even be there to touch them, to be with them during that moment, it’s not even an explainable feeling.” –Hannah Overton

In 2006, Hannah and Larry Overton of Corpus Christi, Texas, were looking forward to adopting 4-year-old Andrew Burd, adding to their large family of soon-to-be five biological children, as Hannah was pregnant. Andrew was a difficult child with behavioral issues and an undiagnosed eating disorder called pica, which involves eating items that are not food, such as hair, dirt, paint chips, and other inedible items. On October 2, 2006, while Hannah was alone with Andrew, he became sick. Hannah’s experience as a mother and private-duty nurse told her that this was the onset of a simple stomach virus, until his breathing became labored. She then rushed him to a doctor, where Andrew was diagnosed with salt poisoning. Hannah was immediately questioned and, while in police custody, Andrew passed away. Unable to account for the amount of sodium in Andrew’s stomach and the questionable bruising on his body, police charged her with capital murder. In an unusual ruling, the jury was allowed two options for finding her guilty: (1) guilty of poisoning her child and (2) guilty of “omission,” or failure to act in a timely manner to her child falling ill. The guilt of “omission” still held a capital murder charge, unique to any known courtroom charges. In September of 2007, she was found not guilty of poisoning her child, but guilty of “omission,” which landed her a sentence of life in prison. Her attorneys immediately began the appeals process, during which they found evidence of blatant prosecutorial misconduct, concealing of evidence, and the truth about Andrew’s medical condition, adding up to a wrongful conviction that stole seven years of Hannah and her family’s lives.

Texas

Date of crime: 10/2/06

Crime: Murder

Sentence: Life Without Parole

Interview Subjects:

  • Hannah Overton
  • Cynthia Orr, Defense Attorney

To learn more, click here:

Texas Monthly

Caller