AUSTIN, Texas - A woman who was convicted of murder in 2004 has been released from prison while possibly awaiting a new trial.
Thursday night was a celebration for Rosa Jimenez and her lawyer Vanessa Potkin and a sense of normalcy – a girls’ shopping trip.
"Rosa basically came out yesterday with one bag of clothes that the prison gave her on the way out, said Potkin with The Innocence Project. "Best of all, we were able to find a dress for her to wear to her daughter's wedding this weekend."
Late Tuesday night, Judge Karen Sage of the 299th Criminal District Court in Austin signed an order to release Rosa Jimenez on bond after the Travis County District Attorney's office joined Jimenez's counsel in requesting her release.
"What's so unusual about this case is that there have been several judges throughout the years that concluded that they believed she was innocent," said Potkin.
The Innocence Project got involved with the case over a decade ago, and they’ve been fighting ever since. "It's been a long time in the making," said Potkin.
Jimenez was convicted in 2004 of the 2003 murder of an almost-two-year-old boy she was babysitting who apparently died after choking on a wad of paper towels. She was sentenced to 99 years in prison.
During the trial, prosecutors had argued it wasn't possible for the boy to accidentally swallow the paper towels. However, in a hearing Tuesday, three expert witnesses, all nationally recognized experts in pediatric airway function according to the DA's office, testified the child's death was likely accidental.
The DA's office says it also filed an affidavit from one of the original experts who testified during the trial. The expert, after having the opportunity to review statements from the pediatric airway experts, said that her original opinion has changed.
Jimenez has continued to maintain her innocence. She will remain in Travis County while the Criminal Court of Appeals rules on Judge Sage’s findings of fact and conclusions of law, says the DA's office.
The DA's office also says that it has joined her defense counsel in arguing that, in light of the testimony and affidavit from the original expert witness, Jimenez is entitled to relief because she is likely innocent.