Opening statements in Overton trial

Relates to:
Date: 2007-08-21

Opening statements in Overton trial

August 21, 2007
Mary Ann Cavazos

CORPUS CHRISTI — Opening statements in the trial of a woman accused of causing the death of a 4-year-old boy in October were delayed until 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to allow a juror to tend to her ill daughter.

The trial of Hannah Overton was scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in 214th District Judge Jose Longoria’s courtroom after a jury was selected Monday. Longoria decided to postpone the trial until this afternoon so the juror could make arrangements for her daughter and remain on the panel.

Overton, 30, is accused of forcing foster child Andrew Burd to drink a mixture of water and Cajun spices as punishment on Oct. 2, according to court records.

After drinking the mixture, the boy vomited and drifted in and out of consciousness. Overton and her 31-year-old husband Larry Overton, who sat in the audience during pre-trial hearings today, are both charged with capital murder.

Police have said the couple waited about one and a half hours before taking Andrew to a medical clinic after he drank the mixture. He was unresponsive when he arrived and died the next day, according to arrest warrant affidavits.

The Overtons were scheduled to face trial together on April 30, but their attorneys asked for separate trials and a continuance.

Larry Overton’s trial was rescheduled for Sept. 24. Prosecutors decided in February they would not seek the death penalty for the Overtons.

Nueces County Medical Examiner Ray Fernandez, who took the stand in today’s pre-trial hearing, ruled the death a homicide based on autopsy conclusions that Andrew died from salt poisoning and had signs of blunt head trauma that contributed to his death.

Defense attorneys proposed several alternatives to why Andrew had a toxic level of salt in his system, including that he may have been an undiagnosed diabetic who became dehydrated or consumed bubble soap from a bottle in the Overtons’ kitchen pantry.


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