- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A state appeals court Wednesday overturned the conviction of a South Texas woman imprisoned for capital murder in the 2006 salt poisoning death of her 4-year-old foster son.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a new trial for Hannah Overton of Corpus Christi. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole in the death of Andrew Burd.

Overton has argued she had ineffective counsel during her 2007 trial, and the state’s highest appeals court agreed.

The court in its ruling noted Overton’s defense attorneys opted not to present the testimony of an expert medical witness. The court said it “was not a reasonable decision” to withhold testimony by the physician that could have benefited Overton.

She also argued that prosecutors had withheld evidence in her trial, but the appeals court did not address that claim.

Overton contended Andrew had emotional and medical problems, including an eating disorder in which he’d consume odd food items. The boy had elevated sodium levels when he died at a Corpus Christi hospital. Tests also showed he had bleeding on the brain and swelling. A doctor who examined the child testified at Overton’s trial that he could have survived if taken to the hospital earlier.

The appeals court in 2012 had ordered an evidentiary hearing but a state district judge in Corpus Christi subsequently recommended against a new trial for Overton.

A phone message left for Overton’s San Antonio attorney, Cynthia Orr, was not immediately returned.

Nueces County District Attorney Mark Skurka told the Caller-Times about an hour after learning the court’s decision that his office has not made a decision about whether to retry the case.

“We’ll review the case with our appellate lawyers and our supervisors and make a decision after we revisit all the evidence in the courts opinion,” Skurka said.

He said there’s no deadline to decide. His office can try her on a lesser charge, dismiss the case or retry her on the capital murder charge.

“All options are open,” Skurka told the newspaper.

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