Monday, February 19, 2007
TRIAL SET FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS
Trial set for adoptive parents facing capital murder charges
COPRUS CHRISTI - The couple accused of forcing their 4-year-old son to drink a deadly mix of water and Cajun seasonings are set to go to trial March 26. Andrew Burd died back in October from a sodium overdose that caused massive organ failure. Thursday, Hannah and Larry Overton were arraigned after being indicted last week.
The district attorney's office is expected to announce on Friday whether they'll seek the death penalty. Hannah and Larry Overton were reminded this week, just how serious this case is, as Hannah's attorney requested to know whether the state will seek the death penalty against them.
Defense attorney John Gilmore said he believes the state will not.
"I'm relatively certain that they're not going to," Gilmore said. "Why not? Because this is not a death penalty case. Even if they had done what they're alleged to have done, this is not a death penalty case."
But prosecutors said it could be because Andrew Burd was just 4 years old, and it is a capital murder charge.
"If you murder a child under the age of 6, that's capital murder," Sandra Eastwood, prosecutor, said.
Prosecutors also asked the judge on Thursday to issue careful bond restrictions for the parents out of concern for the newborn child, born just weeks ago. The judge adopted the restrictions already imposed by another court that require supervision at all times when the parents are with the children.
Their attorney wouldn't comment on their defense strategy, but he said he is confident that the real story will come out in court, and the couple will be found not guilty.
Prosecutors, however, are also confident and added that it will likely not be an easy trial to hear.
"These cases are always heartbreaking," Eastwood said. "So I know that it will be very saddening in the courtroom to hear about some of the facts in this case, but my duty is to present the evidence and see that justice is served, so I'm very glad to be able to do that."
District Attorney Carlos Valdez will be the one to decide whether they'll seek the death penalty or not and that decision will be announced Friday. The reason that's important now is because death penalty cases require a very different jury selection process, and attorneys on both sides need extra time to prepare for such.
Again, as of Thursday, the trial date is set for March 26.
Online Reporter: Bart Bedsole