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DNA Testing Reveals Innocence in Florida Death Row Case

Clemente AguirreToday the Innocence Project Announced - New DNA testing revealed the innocence of a man on Florida’s death row and pointed to a family member of the victims as the likely perpetrator. At a two-week hearing in Sanford, the Innocence Project and lead counsel for Clemente Javier Aguirre-Jarquin fromCapital Collateral Regional Counsel – Middle Region presented compelling new evidence for overturning his conviction.

Aguirre was sentenced to death in 2006 for the murders of his neighbors, Cheryl Williams and Carol Bareis, a mother and daughter who were found stabbed to death in their trailer. An undocumented Honduran, Aguirre initially told the police that he didn’t know anything about the murders. Later the same day, however, he admitted that he had discovered their bodies but panicked and didn’t report the crime because he feared deportation.

At trial, the prosecution presented DNA evidence to show that the victim’s blood was on Aguirre’s clothes, shoes and the bloody knife. However, no testing was conducted on the more than 150 bloodstains that were photographed and swabbed from the crime scene. Post-conviction testing of this previously untested evidence uncovered eight bloodstains that matched to William’s daughter (and Bareis’ granddaughter) Samantha Williams who has a history of violence and mental illness.

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