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Capital murder case dismissed against Hannah Overton


By Bart Bedsole

The Nueces County District Attorney's office dismissed capital murder charges against Hannah Overton late Wednesday afternoon.

The motion states 'prosecutorial discretion' as the reason for the dismissal.

DA Mark Skurka said his decision to drop the case was the result of a myriad of factors that came about after a careful review of the first trial; that included re-interviewing some of the key witnesses, consulting with some of the medical experts involved in the case, reviewing new evidence at recent hearings.

Overton was convicted in the death of her 4-year-old foster son, Andrew Burd, who she was in the process of adopting. The jury in that trial determined she failed to get immediate medical help for the boy after she fed him a fatal dose of salt.

However, the highest criminal court in Texas granted Hannah Overton a new trial in September of 2014.

The appeals court ruled that Overton received "ineffective counsel" at her trial.

Specifically, the court found that key evidence was withheld from the jury that could have changed the outcome, including testimony from a salt poisoning expert who suggested the boy's death was the result of an existing medical condition and not an intentional act by Overton.

Three months after the appeals court ruling, Overton was released on bond from the Nueces County jail while awaiting that new trial.

She had already served 7 years of her life sentence.

Overton's attorney, Cynthia Orr, said Wednesday evening that although she was not entirely surprised by the dismissal, she wasn't expecting it this week.

Orr praised Skurka for carefully reviewing the facts of the case, and pointed out that Skurka was not the District Attorney at the time of Overton's original indictment.

She also described the news as bittersweet for the Overton family, who celebrated over the phone when hearing the news, but is also still in the process of grieving Andrew's death and reacquainting after Hannah's return from prison.

Hannah Overton wasn't available for comment Wednesday, but is expected to speak publicly about the case in the next few days, according to her attorney.

2015 Apr 19