New Hope For San Antonio Four
Update: The Current obtained copies of the writs seeking to vindicate the San Antonio Four. Among the grounds for petition, Ware includes inaccurate expert testimony, the introduction of previously unavailable scientific evidence, denial of due process and the assistance of counsel. An excerpt from the writ establishing the reasons for Ramirez’s unlawful incarceration:
“Since her 1997 trial, a variety of new evidence has established Applicant’s innocence. The inaccuracy of Dr. Kellogg’s testimony is now known and verified by new science. Vanessa’s 1998 trial testimony is no substantially in contradiction with her 1997 trial testimony that she has effectively established her own incredibility. Vanessa’s sister who Vanessa had claimed was abused with her, confirms that Vanessa was untruthful and the abuse never happened. A recent psychological examination reveals Applicant possesses no trait consistent with a pedophile. The other accused women assert Applicant’s innocence. Finally, all four women have passed polygraphs – a circumstance so unusual that it compels as a matter of statistics alone that they must all be innocent.”
New evidence may aid in the exoneration of four women, imprisoned for crimes experts say rest on dubious claims, according to the National Center for Reason and Justice.
Known as the “San Antonio Four”– Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez– were convicted in 1997 and 1998 for sexual assault by Ramirez’s two nieces. As the Current extensively reported, the case was built upon shaky evidence, flawed forensics and possible coercion.
The National Center for Reason and Justice took up the case in 2008, enlisting legal defense help from the Innocence Project of Texas three years ago. Lawyers with the Innocence Project said one of the two child victims (now an adult) recanted testimony last summer, saying her father “coerced and coached her into making false allegations against her aunt and three friends.”
This week, equipped with new evidence that “establishes their complete innocence,” attorneys Mike Ware and Keith Hampton filed writs of habeas corpus to request the San Antonio Four’s release from prison.
“Today’s filings take these women one step closer to freedom,” said Ware in a statement via NCRJ. Although complete exoneration could take a take a year or longer, Ware says, “I hope to reach an agreement with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office for their release on bail, pending the final outcome of the case, before the end of the year.”