SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A Texas woman convicted of killing her 4-year-old foster child by force-feeding him an overdose of salt has been released on bail after an appeals court said there were sufficient questions in her original prosecution to warrant a new trial.
Bond for Hannah Overton, 37, was set at $50,000, which was posted by friends of the Corpus Christi woman, and she was released from prison on Tuesday after serving about seven years behind bars.
Nueces County District Attorney Mark Skurka did not respond to a request for comment. His office has indicated it will place Overton on trial again.
Overton’s lawyers said she was convicted because her original defense team was unskilled and prosecutors relied on faulty science to present evidence seen as incriminating.
“There was a terrible injustice done,” defense attorney Cynthia Orr told the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, adding Overton, the mother of five children, performed “aggressive lifesaving measures” after finding foster child Andrew Burd unconscious in the pantry of the family’s kitchen.
After the boy was rushed to the hospital, doctors found marks on his body, which may have indicated abuse, prosecutors said in the original trial.
But lawyers who appealed for Overton said the boy was a special needs child suffering from an eating disorder and other diseases. They contend he consumed the fatal dose of salt on his own and the marks on his body were consistent with a condition he suffered from called coagulopathy, a blood clotting disorder.
Texas Monthly magazine reported that medical experts who provided key testimony for prosecutors at the trial now say they question and regret the conviction.
Overton has received support from the Evangelical Christian community across the country, and several pastors were among those requesting her release.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mohammad Zargham