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Orlando Sentinel: Judge in Clemente Aguirre Death Penalty Case Should Step Aside

By Innocence Staff

Clemente Aguirre

Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell is urging Seminole County Circuit Court Judge Jessica Recksiedler to recuse herself in the retrial of Clemente Javier Aguirre. Aguirre is facing a retrial for the murders of Carol Bareis and her daughter Cheryl Williams. The Innocence Project was co-counsel on Aguirre’s appeals for several years, which ultimately led the Florida Supreme Court to issue a unanimous ruling throwing out his conviction and death sentence based on new DNA testing identifying William’s daughter, Samantha Williams, as the likely assailant. In addition to the DNA evidence, Samantha Williams made multiple confessions implicating herself in the murders in the years since Aguirre was convicted of the crime.

The Florida Supreme Court unanimously reversed an earlier decision by Recksiedler to uphold Aguirre’s conviction despite the strong evidence of his innocence.  In fact, the Sentinel column notes that Recksiedler even tried to use her opinion denying relief to Aguirre as the basis for a promotion to a position on an appellate court, and “has a vested interest in trying to prove herself right.”

In urging Recksiedler to recuse herself from the case, columnist Maxwell writes: “But even if she believes she can be the wisest, most impartial jurist in Florida, she should step aside to remove any further taint from a case that has been a hot mess for years.”

Read the full column here.

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