This week, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a unanimous opinion remanding the case of Rigoberto “Robert” Avila, Jr. for consideration of the merits of his claim that his conviction was based on outdated science. Avila has spent 15 years on death row. He was sentenced to death in El Paso for the 2000 murder of a 19-month-old child he was babysitting along with the infant’s four-year-old brother.
Newly available scientific evidence in the field of biomechanics demonstrates he is likely innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. His case has been pending before the state’s highest criminal court since September 2013.
Read coverage of the ruling from the El Paso Times and Dallas Morning News.
Here is a statement from Avila’s attorneys:
Attorneys’ statement in response to today’s ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
“We are tremendously pleased that the Court of Criminal Appeals has found that Mr. Avila’s case deserves full review under Article 11.073, which opens the courthouse doors to those who may have been convicted based on outdated science. New scientific evidence calls into serious question the medical evidence presented at Mr. Avila’s 2001 trial and strongly suggests that the death of the baby was a tragic accident, not the fault of Mr. Avila, who has consistently maintained his innocence. We now look to the convicting court in El Paso County, where this critical evidence will be aired for the first time. We remain confident that a full examination of the case will ultimately spare an innocent man from execution by the State of Texas.”
– Attorneys Cathryn Crawford and Robert C. Owen