A man who was on Florida’s death row was exonerated of all charges and released from prison on Nov. 5. Clemente Aguirre shockingly spent more than 14 years behind bars and now he’s reportedly the 21st person to be acquitted after compelling new DNA evidence was found.
All charges against the 38-year-old have been dismissed by Circuit Judge John D. Galluzzo and it was revealed there will be no retrial. Aguirre was convicted and sentenced to death in 2006 for the 2004 killings of his neighbors, Carol Bareis and Cheryl Williams. At the time, he was in the country illegally working as a prep chef in Heathrow. The two were fatally stabbed in their Altamonte Springs mobile home and their blood was found on Aguirre’s shoes and clothes, but he explained to police that he was trying to figure out if they were breathing when he found their bodies.
Aguirre has maintained that he was innocent since he was first arrested at the age of 24 back in June 2004. It seemed like his luck was changing in 2011, when the Innocence Project helped find new DNA evidence showing Williams’ daughter’s blood was at the scene. It was reported that her daughter had confessed several times to other people that she was the one who committed the murders.
“Mr. Aguirre was nearly executed for a crime he didn’t commit,” said one of his lead trial attorneys, Joshua Dubin. “While we are overjoyed that his ordeal is finally over, the case of Clemente Aguirre should serve as a chilling cautionary tale about how dangerous it is when there is a rush to judgment in a capital case.”
“Mr. Aguirre pleaded for the blood to be tested and thankfully his post-conviction attorneys got that done,” Joshua revealed after the Florida Supreme Court unanimously overturned Aguirre’s conviction in 2016. “So when the results of those tests revealed that Samantha Williams’ blood was found within inches of the victim’s blood, and that she repeatedly confessed that she committed the crime to multiple witnesses, it boggles the mind that Mr. Aguirre even faced the prospect of being sent back to death row a second time.”