"Lawyers: Man wrongfully convicted of killing baby," is the San Antonio Express-News report written by Lynn Brezosky.
New lawyers for a man sent to death row after being convicted of murdering his girlfriend's infant son are set to argue today that evidence that wasn't presented would exonerate him.
“The technical claim is ineffective assistance of counsel,” said Neil Burger, one of a team of attorneys working pro bono on the case. “At the first trial, the medical evidence went undisputed by defense trial counsel. We're going to show that it is highly disputed and was readily available.”
But the new lawyers say medical evidence shows the baby had brain injuries that led to his death and that would have been inflicted while Velez was working in Memphis, Tenn.
While an appellate court already has overturned the death sentence, the decision was based on prosecution witness A.P. Merillat's testimony during the penalty phase. The court determined that he mischaracterized prison conditions for convicts serving life sentences for capital murder by saying they'd be eligible for outside work details.
The proceedings beginning today are about the conviction itself.
“It goes to guilt or innocence as opposed to what punishment he should get,” attorney Tami Goodlette said.
The Cameron County district attorney's office stands by the prosecution's case, citing the “State's compelling interest in the finality of its hard-won conviction” in its 169-page response to Velez's petition to rehear the case.
Brian Stull of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project posts, "Could Manuel Velez be the 13th Prisoner Exonerated from Texas’s Death Row?" at the ACLU Blog of Rights. Here's the beginning:
Imagine you are caring for a toddler and suddenly he stops breathing. You quickly get him medical aid, but it’s too late: the child dies at the hospital where medical personnel were unable to revive him. That would be a horrific nightmare for anyone, but things got even worse for Manuel Velez when this happened to him in Brownsville, Texas, on Halloween in 2005.
In a tiny home in a poor section of Brownsville, Manuel was watching two other small children and 11-month-old Angel Moreno for about 20 minutes when Manuel discovered Angel in distress. He awoke Angel’s mother, Acela Moreno, who was napping but who herself had been alone with the child only 20 minutes earlier. The two rushed to a neighbor’s home to call 911. Angel died at the hospital. Both Acela Moreno and Manuel Velez were charged with his murder.
Earlier coverage of Manuel Velez' case begins at the link.