CRIME
12/17/2014 10:30 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Hannah Overton Freed After 7 Years In Prison For Foster Son's Murder

A Texas mom convicted of capital murder in her foster son's sodium poisoning death was released Tuesday after seven years in prison, but her freedom may not last.

A Nueces County judge granted Hannah Overton's bond of $50,000, and she was released from the county jail, ABC News reports. The decision comes more than two months after a Texas appellate court granted Overton a new trial and overturned her life sentence.

There's no date set for the new trial in the death of 4-year-old Andrew Burd -- a foster child who Overton and her husband Larry were adopting -- but Nueces County District Attorney Mark Skurka vowed to try her again on capital murder charges.

Overton, a 37-year-old mother of five from Corpus Christi, reveled in the small victory as she was released Tuesday afternoon.

"I just want to hug my kids," she told ABC News. "I know we’ll make up for it, but I don’t know [that] we’ll be able to catch up for seven years. That’s-- it’s gone, and taken from us."

Overton, who was found guilty of capital murder in 2007, maintains her innocence, and her current attorney says Burd's death was accidental. The conviction -- which carried an automatic life sentence -- came after Burd was found dead in the family's kitchen pantry.

At trial, prosecutors claimed that Overton fed the child a mixture of water and Cajun seasoning, which led to sodium poisoning, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times. But she wasn't convicted for force-feeding Burd salt -- she was found guilty of neglecting to seek help quickly enough.

In September, an appellate court found that Overton deserved a new trial because her attorneys gave ineffective counsel. Three judges issued a concurring opinion, stating that the case proceedings were "problematic from the beginning."

"Because the defense counsel’s performance fell below a reasonable standard and there is a reasonable probability that the outcome of [the] trial would have been different but for that performance, we grant relief," the court wrote.

While she awaits her new trial, Overton plans on spending Christmas with the family she only saw behind Plexiglass, once per month for the past seven years, the Caller Times reports.

"The outcome of this case still keeps me up at night after seven years," said Dr. Alex Rotta, a pediatrician who treated Burd but was never called to the stand to testify. "I believe Mrs. Overton has more than served the punishment for what was at worst child endangerment or involuntary manslaughter but made into capital murder due to a botched trial and a profoundly ineffective counsel."

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