DNA evidence may clear Honduran man sentenced to death in Florida

Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin is pictured in this booking photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Corrections. Florida Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters
Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin is pictured in this booking photo courtesy of the Florida Department of Corrections. Florida Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters

Lawyers seeking to overturn the murder conviction of a Honduran man who has been on Florida’s death row since 2006 presented new DNA and blood stain evidence in a Florida court on Tuesday.

Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin, 33, was convicted in the 2004 murders of his neighbors at a Seminole County trailer park. Cheryl Williams, 47, was stabbed 129 times, and her mother, Carol Bareis, 69, was stabbed twice.

Blood stain expert Barie Goetz testified Tuesday that the killer would have been splattered with blood spurting from 131 stab wounds from a 10-inch knife at close range. Goetz said the blood found on the thigh area of Aguirre’s shorts were contact stains and matched Aguirre’s claim that he found the bodies and rolled them over to check for a pulse.

“The wearer of those shorts did not inflict the injuries to Cheryl Williams,” said Goetz, a Pennsylvania-based forensic consultant. Goetz also testified that Aguirre’s bloody shoe prints at the scene indicated careful walking around the bodies.

The Innocence Project, which is dedicated to using DNA testing to exonerate those who are wrongly convicted, and Aguirre’s appellate legal team also obtained DNA analysis of some of the 150 blood stains photographed and swabbed at the crime scene but never tested.

NEW DNA EVIDENCE

The new DNA analysis concluded that eight blood stains at the crime scene matched Samantha Williams, the daughter and granddaughter of the victims, and none matched Aguirre, according to a report by the Innocence Project.

Samantha Williams had a history of mental illness, and during two mental breakdowns after Aguirre’s conviction confessed to the killings, according to the report. Witnesses also said Samantha and her mother had a heated argument before the killings, and that Samantha sent her boyfriend to her mother’s trailer the next morning, saying she had a “bad feeling” something had happened to her.

Nina Morrison, a lawyer for the Innocence Project, told Reuters that Samantha Williams has been subpoenaed to testify Wednesday.

Aguirre’s legal team is asking Judge Jessica Recksiedler to reverse the conviction based on either the new evidence, the ineffectiveness of Aguirre’s trial lawyer or actual innocence.

A spokeswoman for the Seminole County State Attorney’s office which prosecuted Aguirre would not comment on whether it would challenge the new evidence in court.

In 2006, the same year Aguirre was convicted, Milton Dedge, who spent 22 years on death row, became the first person in the Florida freed as a result of new DNA evidence. Dedge was convicted by the same prosecutor’s office as Aguirre and was represented post-conviction by a legal team which included the Innocence Project and Morrison.

Aguirre maintained his innocence from the beginning and testified on his own behalf at trial.

Aguirre said he often socialized with the Williams family, and went to their trailer at 6 a.m. on June 17, 2004 looking for a beer to help him sleep. Aguirre said he found the bodies, rolled Cheryl over to check for a pulse, and grabbed a knife near the bodies for protection in case the killer was still present.

As an illegal immigrant, Aguirre decided not to call police out of fear he would be deported back to the violent barrio in Honduras from which he had fled to America. He said he tossed his blood-smeared clothes in a bag, hid the bag on his roof and initially denied knowing anything when questioned by police. Later on that day, he told police how he had found the bodies.

Morrison and Goetz said that DNA testing was well established when Aguirre went to trial and could have been requested by his defense lawyer.

(Editing by David Adams and Cynthia Osterman)


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

National

Missouri man charged with sexually torturing five women

A Missouri man has been charged with raping and torturing five women in a St. Louis-area apartment over several years, law enforcement officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Report: NYPD disbands controversial Muslim surveillance program

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the police unit behind NYPD's Muslim surveillance program was disbanded.

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

Television

'Orphan Black' is back with 'crazy clone shenanigans'

“Orphan Black” is the little show that could. It had a few things working against it: a sci-fi premise, attracting an audience who had never…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.