IPTX Celebrates Expungement of San Antonio 4 Convictions
The Innocence Project of Texas is pleased to announce the convictions of its clients Kristie Mayhugh, Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera and Anna Vasquez (the San Antonio 4) were, today, officially expunged.
Today at noon, Bexar County Judge Catherine Torres-Stahl met with the SA4 after ordering that all records be expunged in relation to their previous, wrongful convictions. The SA4’s cases were taken on by lead counsel Mike Ware, Executive Director for the Innocence Project of Texas. Each of the women were found to be actually innocent and were exonerated by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Texas’s highest Court, in 2016. In 2017 the cases against the four women were officially dismissed. Besides extensive local and statewide press coverage, many people have heard of their case as they had an award-winning documentary based on them: “Southwest of Salem” and the Innocent Project’s of Texas successful efforts at exonerating them.
The women filed their Petitions for Expunction this past October through the Innocence Project of Texas. With the agreement of the Bexar County District Attorney’s office, Judge Torres-Stahl signed the orders on Nov. 30th . The Judge’s Orders initiate the process by which all government agencies maintaining information relating to the criminal charges for which the women have been found innocent, must destroy or seal the records containing that information, including any information held in databases related to the arrests, indictments, or convictions.
Even after exoneration, exonerees sometimes find it difficult to find jobs or housing because they still have arrest records. Many foreign countries will not allow American citizens with arrest records into their country, even if the arrestee has been found to be innocent. The expunction process corrects these significant problems.
Deputy Director for the Innocence Project of Texas, Allison Clayton explains: “An exoneration takes away the conviction itself; the expunction takes away all other records of it. An exoneration is like the surgery to correct the main problem, but you still have scars from it; the expunction gets rid of the scars.”
Congratulations women of the San Antonio 4!