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Trial begins for murder of 4-year-old


Trial begins for murder of 4-year-old

Aug 22, 2007

Erin Cargile

CORPUS CHRISTI - Testimony began in the trial of Hannah Overton, the Corpus Christi mother accused of killing 4-year-old Andrew Burd, a foster child she and her husband were trying to adopt, with a mixture of Cajun spices last October.

Tuesday afternoon Hannah still claimed her innocence in the 214th District Court. From there, attorneys on both sides gave opening statements. Prosecutor Sandra Eastwood expects to show Andrew's death was not natural, nor were Hannah's actions.

"You will hear the different conflicting statements that the defendant Hannah Overton gave as to what happened to Andrew," Eastwood said to the jury.

Hannah's attorney John Gilmore said witness will prove Hannah has been falsely accused of Andrew's murder from the beginning.

"What you're gonna hear is that they targeted Hannah from the very first," Gilmore said. "They targeted Hannah as the person who was responsible for this."

Hannah Overton listened intently as the prosecution called their first of about 28 witnesses. Sharon Hamil was Andrew's foster mother for 18 months before the Overton's decided to adopt him.

The jury viewed pictures of Andrew taken during that time. Hamil remembered much about Andrew's demeanor and described Andrew as being well behaved, obedient and always happy.

"I mean he did what I asked him to do," Hamil said. "He never talked back; he never refused to do what I asked him to do."

She also touched on Andrew's eating habits and recalls the fact he despised spicy food.

"I got a whole box of spicy chicken - he would not eat it," she said. "I even had to peel the skin off of it just to get him to eat a few bites of it."

Hamil also went to church with the Overtons, and that's how they came to know and want to adopt Andrew.

She went on to say it was a Godsend because she would still be able to watch Andrew grow up.

Two urgent care nurses who were the first ones to treat Andrew, also took the stand. They said he felt cold and was covered in chili powder.

Overton was keeping close tabs on Tuesday's testimony while Medical Assistant Patricia Gonzales was on the stand. The two first met when Hannah and her husband walked into the Urgent Care Clinic on Saratoga holding 4-year-old Andrew Burd.

Gonzales recalled a distinct smell of chili powder.

"We noticed he had remnants of, I guess he had vomited prior to coming in," she said. "He was wrapped in blue sweatshirt that had chili all over the place that was also on his body."

She said Andrew had no pulse. His pupils were dialated, and when she felt Andrew's little body...

"He was already cold to the touch. His lips were kind of a bluish color, so he had been out for a while," she said.

Gonzales remembered Hannah telling her Andrew had passed out in the car on the way to the clinic and she had tried performing CPR. The doctor called on Hannah to continue administering CPR while they called 911, but Gonzales said something else was unusual.

During the time she was performing CPR and trying to do the chest compressions, she had a smile on her face. The next witness, a nurse at the clinic said she saw...

"A smirk on her face," Dina Zapata, LVN, said. "I couldn't describe it any other way."

She also couldn't comprehend why a healthy child with no previous medical problems would be in that bad of shape.

"He had no pulse," he said. "He was... he was just there."

Testimony continues Wednesday morning and could continue for about two weeks.

2007 Aug 22