AUSTIN (KXAN) — Five Texas House representatives have called for a new trial, or the “outright release,” of Rosa Jimenez.
In 2005, Jimenez was convicted in the death of a baby in her care and sentenced to 99 years in prison. According to testimony from the original trial, the boy choked on a wad of paper towels, but Jimenez has maintained her innocence.
After hearing about her case from the Innocence Project, Representatives Donna Howard, Celia Israel, Gina Hinojosa, Sheryl Cole and Vikki Goodwin sent a letter to Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore, calling the case “extraordinarily unique” and in need of “additional review to ensure that an innocent person does not linger in state custody.”
Several judges have written recommendations and rulings that Jimenez is deserving of a new trial. In 2019, United States District Judge Lee Yeakel overturned her conviction and ordered a new trial.
Her lawyers assert they have new medical experts they want to testify in her case.
As of a hearing in mid-January, a February 25 deadline remains in place for either a decision on her retrial or release.
According to a copy of the letter released by Goodwin’s office on Monday, the representatives said, “While the death of any child is tragic, a miscarriage of justice will only widen the circle of pain.”
The letter touched on the fact that Jimenez has stage 4 kidney disease, and her declining health “would effectively render her continued incarceration a likely death sentence.”
They end the letter by saying, “Though we are a society of laws, we are also a moral society. There may indeed be some legal technicalities of which we are we are not fully appraised, but instances like this challenge us all to do what is humane. We understand the difficult role district attorneys have in our criminal justice system, but urge you to take any necessary steps to ensure that justice and basic humanity carry the day.”
On Monday, Moore responded to the representatives’ letter, saying she has a appointed a team to determine whether the case can and should be retried, “as was ordered by the federal court.” She also said she’s asked the county’s Conviction Integrity Unit to review the case.
Moore continued, saying, in part:
“… I have met with the mother and uncle of the deceased child, Bryan Gutierrez, to explain to them what happened. They are understandably distressed and disturbed. They feel the loss of this child as if it happened yesterday. It is my job as District Attorney to remember their rights and needs as victims. They, too, deserve to know that justice is done.”
The District Attorney says that she values the opinions of the three previous judges who have presided over the case — the first who found her guilty of murder and the second and third who denied requests for new trials.
“Ultimately, there is only one issue to be determined: How did a “large mass” of “blood-soaked” paper towels, which measured about 3 inches long and 3 inches wide, get lodged so far down a 21-month-old’s throat that it could not be seen at first by police and paramedics and could only be extracted with difficulty using forceps? (These quotes are from the Third Court opinion, excerpt attached). .. Either Ms. Jimenez forced it down his throat, or the child did it to himself.”
Moore concluded saying she was not aware of any evidence that suggested actual innocent.
“I think you know that I will always act in the interest of justice,” said Moore. “This case is no different. It is receiving our careful and most compassionate attention.”