No death decision made yet

Relates to:
Date: 2007-02-17

No death decision made yet

DA says he needs all evidence to plan course in capital case

February 17, 2007
Barbara Ramirez

District Attorney Carlos Valdez said Friday he wouldn't be rushed into making a decision on seeking the death penalty for a couple charged with capital murder in the death of a 4-year-old boy because he hasn't seen all the evidence.

Hannah and Larry Overton, who are charged with the Oct. 3 death of Andrew Burd, pleaded not guilty to the charges Thursday in 214th District Judge Jose Longoria's courtroom. Capital murder charges are punishable by an automatic life in prison sentence or the death penalty.

At the request of John Gilmore, Hannah Overton's attorney, Longoria on Thursday ordered prosecutors to inform the defendants by 5 p.m. Friday whether his office would seek the death penalty. But Valdez said Friday that he couldn't comply with the deadline.

"We have to take our time in deciding these important matters," Valdez said. "We're talking about life or death."

Longoria could not be reached for comment Friday.

Hannah Overton, 29, is accused of feeding Andrew a mixture of water and Cajun seasoning as punishment on Oct. 2, according to arrest affidavits.

After drinking the mixture, the boy vomited and drifted in and out of consciousness. Hannah and Larry Overton, 30, waited nearly three hours before taking Andrew to a medical clinic, where he died the next day, affidavits stated. The couple was in the process of adopting Andrew.

"I don't want to push them to make a decision, but they've had since October to talk about it," Gilmore said. "I want them to make the right decision."

Larry Overton's attorney, Lisa Harris, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Valdez said he could not give a specific date for when a decision would be made.

The couple faces trial March 26 in Longoria's courtroom. Hannah Overton was released from custody in October on a $250,000 bond and Larry Overton was released in October on a $150,000 bond.

Contact Barbara Ramirez at 886-3792 or ramirezb@


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