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December 18, 2019 56 min

S9E6: Clemente Aguirre - Deadly Options

Coming of age in Honduras, Clemente “Shorty” Aguirre was faced with a choice: join MS13 or die. He moved to Nicaragua with his grandmother instead, but with no economic prospects, he chose to come to the United States as an undocumented immigrant. Life was calm for a while, as he worked as a cook and lived in a trailer park, where he had found a place in a nice community of friends. Then, on June 17th, 2004, after a long night out, Shorty dropped by a neighboring trailer shared by his friends Cheryl Williams, part-time by her daughter Samantha, and her mother Carol Bareis. They were known for always having a stockpile of beer, and Shorty was going to ask them for an early morning nightcap, when he discovered Cheryl and Carol had been stabbed and were lying in pools of their own blood. Not thinking clearly in that dramatic moment, he inserted himself into the crime scene, while he checked their bodies for signs of life. Realizing that they were gone and that making a call to the police would certainly get him deported to a country where MS13 awaited his return, he went to his own trailer to lay low. Later that day, he came forward to investigators with his discovery and became the prime suspect. With the combination of an ineffective public defender, the prosecution’s tunnel vision, and plenty of circumstantial evidence, Clemente would be tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Later, Shorty was able to get the attention of the Innocence Project who tested the 197 pieces of crime scene evidence for DNA, excluding Clemente and pointing to Cheryl’s own daughter, Samantha, as the true perpetrator - a finding corroborated by her multiple confessions to friends and neighbors.

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Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava for Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co No1.

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