Last month, the Innocence Project and lead counsel for a Florida death row inmate presented compelling new evidence for overturning his conviction in a hearing in Sanford. Clemente Javier Aguirre-Jarquin has been on Florida’s death row since 2006 for the murders of a mother and daughter who were found stabbed to death in their trailer in Seminole County on June 17, 2004. Now, as the County Circuit Judge considers the evidence before ruling sometime this month, the Tampa Bay Times reports that doubt of Aguirre’s guilt has grown.
The evidence that could potentially save Aguirre’s life comes at a time when Florida is trying to pass legislation called the Timely Justice Act that would speed up executions across the state.
“I think (Aguirre-Jarquin) is very lucky that it only took six years to prove his innocence and not 15 or 20,” said Nina Morrison, senior staff attorney for the Innocence Project, which assisted with the case’s DNA testing. “Under the provisions of the Timely Justice Act, he might not be alive today.”
The new evidence points to Aguirre’s innocence and points to the victim’s daughter, who has a long history of mental illness, as the real perpetrator. According to Morrison, police and prosecutors developed a theory of the crime early on and rushed to judgment.
“I think Clemente’s case is a sobering reminder that innocence doesn’t prove itself,” she said. “A lot of people think we don’t send innocent people to death row anymore, and that’s just not the case.”