SAN ANTONIO, April 20 (UPI) -- A lawyer for a Texas mother convicted of poisoning her son with large amounts of salt says medical evidence proving her innocence was withheld from the defense.
Cynthia Orr, lawyer for Hannah Overton who is serving a life sentence in prison, says new evidence shows her client did not force her 4-year-old foster son, Andrew Burd, to eat a large quantity of salt causing his 2006 death, the San Antonio Express-News reported Wednesday.
"Most striking, evidence discovered in the prosecution files reveals that Andy's stomach contents (of salt) when he arrived at Driscoll Urgent Care was a low 48, as shown in a test of gastric content from the hospital," Orr said.
Prosecutors did not share the result of that test along with other potentially important medical information with Overton's defense lawyers. It was discovered in 2010 after Orr was given access to the prosecution's file, she said.
"If you look at the prosecutor's notes, they knew all this stuff. It's shocking," Orr said.
Overton, who prosecutors painted as a malevolent mother, was found guilty of capital murder in 2007. In arguments they said Overton tried to punish the child with a salty brew then failed to get medical help when he lost consciousness, the News-Express said.
Improprieties were claimed in a writ filed Friday with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in which Orr asked for a hearing on issues that have come up since Overton's conviction in Nueces County in 2007.
Anna Jimenez, a former prosecutor who helped convict Overton, wrote a letter attached to Orr's Friday filing described a series of ethical and procedural lapses by lead prosecutor Sandra Eastwood who was fired in 2010 for an ethical lapse unrelated to the Overton case.
Judge Jose Longoria, who presided over the trial in Nueces County, summarily dismissed Orr's April 7 writ, the same day it was filed.
Orr submitted the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which can either uphold Longoria's ruling or send it back to him for a hearing.