AUSTIN (KXAN) — Rosa Jimenez said she couldn’t sleep last night. Around two or three o’clock in the morning, she had a thought.
“Maybe I need to go for a walk?” she said. “You know, I don’t know this place, but that’s what I wanted to do… I want to get to know this place and just live day by day. I feel like every day is a new day, and I want to enjoy it.”
She arrived in Austin yesterday, after a tumultuous day. She walked out of the Mountain View Unit — a prison in Gatesville, Texas — for the first time in 15 years after judge ordered her release on bond earlier this week.
Jimenez was found guilty of murder in the 2003 choking death of a child in her care. Since then, she’s maintained her innocence. The national advocacy group, the Innocence Project, even took up her case.
Several judges have said they believe she is entitled to a new trial over the years, but in a hearing on Tuesday, her defense brought forth new evidence. Three of the nation’s leading pediatric choking experts all testified the baby’s death was, in their opinion, an accident.
“I believe I am going to be exonerated, eventually.”Rosa Jimenez, out on bond after judge questions original murder conviction
District Judge Karen Sage released her findings on Wednesday, stating her belief that Jimenez’s original trial was based on “false evidence.”
“When somebody actually says, ‘I believe you didn’t do this,’ that makes a difference,” Jimenez told KXAN’s Avery Travis in the first television interview since her release.
She got emotional talking about being reunited with her daughter and about her first embrace with her son — to whom she gave birth while in jail 18 years ago.
“He don’t know nothing about me. He doesn’t even remember me touching him,” she said. “It’s like a perfect puzzle piece — that we fit so perfectly… I can’t even explain it.”
Jimenez explained she learned to suppress her feelings while behind bars, but when she first saw her children she had the urge to “scream or cry.”
“Right now I’m just overwhelmed,” she said. “They know that I love them, and I missed them so much.”
She plans to attend her daughter’s wedding, which happens to be scheduled for this weekend.
“I remember one time she was like, ‘everybody has a mommy, but I don’t.’ It just kind of hurts… yeah, I was not there — not because I didn’t want to — but now that this is the most important day of her life, and I’m going to be there? It’s a blessing,” she said.
Her defense team said she will remain in Travis County while they await a decision from the Criminal Court of Appeals to overturn or uphold her conviction, or call for a new trial. Her immigration status after that ruling also remains uncertain.
“I’m not even going to lie, it’s kind of scary. Especially when you’ve been so long in that place, and all these people see it, but yet they still want to persecute you,” she said. “It’s confusing to me because you have all these experts, all this evidence — not just that, but you see the struggle of my kids, my family, my pain. Is that not enough?”
Still, the most recent decision by this district judge sticks in her mind, and she remains confident.
“I believe that — just like what happened on the 26th — I know everything is going to be okay, and I believe I am going to be exonerated eventually.”