The San Antonio Four: Major NCRJ Victory Imminent
Four innocent young women, who had little hope until their cause was taken up by the National Center for Reason and Justice, very likely will be exonerated and released from prison.
Today, attorneys Mike Ware of Fort Worth and Keith Hampton of Austin, filed writs of habeas corpus requesting the release from prison of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez, who have become known as the “San Antonio Four”. This legal action is backed by the Innocence Project of Texas and asserts that all four women were wrongly convicted in trials held in 1997 and 1998, and that new evidence establishes their complete innocence.
The case began in 1994 when the four women were accused by the two nieces of Elizabeth Ramirez. The only evidence presented against them was the testimony of the two children, which we believe was coerced, and medical evidence that is now known to be faulty. The trial was also severely tainted by homophobia.
The four women languished in prison for years until the case was discovered by Darrell Otto, a Canadian professor doing research. Otto began a correspondence with the women, travelled to Texas to visit them, and created a web site (fourliveslost.com). Eventually, he contacted the NCRJ who took the case in 2008.
The NCRJ persuaded the Innocence Project of Texas to do the legal work. We also drummed up media attention and found an excellent documentary film maker who is making a movie about the case. We paid for a lie-detector test and even send monthly commissary donations to the neediest of the women. While our resources are limited, we knew we could not rest until these women received justice.
Ware said, “Today’s filings take these women one step closer to freedom,” but that the process could take a year or longer. “I hope to reach an agreement with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office for their release on bail, pending the final outcome of the case, before the end of the year.”
The NCRJ was founded in 2002 to fight false accusations and wrongful convictions. The NCRJ fights panic and irrationality in our criminal-justice system, protecting the rights of the innocent and guilty, adults and children.
Our first major effort led to the freeing of Bernard Baran, a gay teenager who was wrongfully convicted at 19 and spent nearly 22 years in prison. Baran has since been exonerated and compensated by the state of Massachusetts.