Friday, January 04, 2013

Katie Couric interviews family of Hannah Overton, who was (wrongfully) convicted in "salt poisoning" death of foster child


On Thursday, January 3, 2013, Katie Couric (on her daytime show "Katie")  interviewed the family of Hannah Overton, a Texas mother of five who has served five years in prison (of a life sentence) after conviction of “murder” of the foster child she had adopted (her other four children are hers).  The segment is titled “The Five Year Fight to Free Hannah Overton”.
  
The son had been born to a drug addict, and had severe eating and behavior disorders related to drug toxicities from the womb.  The boy apparently died from salt poisoning, as a result of his “pica”. 

The prosecution claimed she wanted to be relieved of the “burden” of raising him and premeditated it, but the jury found she had failed to call 911 in a timely manner.  But if so, it’s hard to see how that is murder.  But she didn’t take a plea for a lesser offense because she would lose the right to appeal.

Dan Abrams, ABC legal analyst, discussed the case and said the Texas appeals court was likely to grant a new trial or even overturn the conviction.

Couric played up the emotions of the case, telling the oldest daughter than she must have had to play “little mommy” to her two siblings.  As an only child, I never experienced that, although when I was nine my parents considered adopting a girl, but mysteriously abandoned the idea.

Husband Larry appeared, and said that he is allowed to touch his wife on jail visits, but his kids are not. Like Paula Fairs, he confirmed that “she really had a heart for kids” and was willing to sacrifice – and teach her other children sacrifice – to care for a child born to a negligent mother.  I guess I couldn’t do that.  In my world, that has always been “other people’s mistakes.” 

This really does sound like a wrongful conviction to me (as in the films “The Central Park Five” and “West of Memphis”).  What’s different from those movies is that there is no other suspect;  the state prosecution has made up a theory that an apparent accident was the result of intention or negligence.  The show pointed out that the practice of electing judges in Texas puts pressure on the system to get more convictions.  I lived in Dallas for nine years in the 1980s and got called for jury duty four times, turning in one conviction (of a weapons charge) as a foreman myself in 1982. 

The link for the story, and video of interviews, is here..

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