The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will review the case of Hannah Overton, the Corpus Christi mother accused of salt poisoning her 4-year-old foster child who died in 2006.
The decision for an evidentiary hearing comes after Overton's supporters at FreeHannah.com raised money and produced a video declaring her innocence. The group has also sent letters to Gov. Rick Perry petitioning a review. Overton has been denied requests for appeal on two previous occasions.
In 2007 Overton was convicted of failure to take the child, Andrew Burd, to a hospital in a timely manner and was sentenced to life without parole.
Her appellate attorney, Cynthia Orr, claims Overton received ineffective counsel and the state withheld key evidence, specifically regarding sodium levels in the child's stomach at the time of death. (See "Second chance," Sept. 24, 2011.)
In 2008 Overton's husband Larry pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide and received five years deferred adjudication probation and a $5,000 fine.
Hannah Overton felt pleading guilty to lesser charges would be admitting guilt and thus was given a life sentence, the punishment under Texas law for the death of a child under age 6.
The Overtons had four children and one on the way when they took in Andrew, whom they were in the process of adopting at the time of his death. The child of a teenage drug user, Andrew reportedly had numerous developmental issues, would throw temper tantrums, and was a compulsive overeater-sometimes eating until he would throw up only to demand more food.
One day Hannah Overton said she fed Andrew and afterward gave him some Cajun seasoning mixed with water in a sippy cup to placate him. Soon after that he threw up and became cold and unresponsive. Overton, who has a nursing background, said she tried to help him. The Overtons later took Andrew to a clinic. He died the next day in the hospital.
The appeals court hearing should take place within approximately 90 days.