"Science Goes to Court: Death row case sets new state law against prosecutorial resistance," is Jordan Smith's lengthy report in the current issue of the Austin Chronicle.
Rigoberto Avila was in the living room of the small two-bedroom apartment on El Paso's west side watching a basketball game on TV when he looked up and saw 4-year-old Dylan Salinas standing in the hallway, looking frightened.
Avila, then 27, a former Navy man with no criminal record, was babysitting Dylan and the boy's 19-month-old brother, Nicholas Macias, at the request of the boys' mother, Marcelina Macias. Avila and Marcy, as she was known, had become friends less than a year before, while both were employed at Roto Rooter, and Avila, and sometimes his mother, helped Macias, then 25, care for her four children; Macias was studying for her GED and whenever he was free, Avila helped out. That's what he'd agreed to do the night of March 29, 2000. After Macias left the house sometime after 6pm, and the two young boys moved off to a shared bedroom to play (their older siblings were at a relative's house), Avila settled in to watch the game.
Now, more than 12 years later, and with the aid of a newly passed, groundbreaking state law that allows for the reconsideration of convictions in which science – or so-called science – played a key role, Avila hopes that modern analysis done by physicists and doctors specifically trained in the mechanics of injury to children will help him finally to prove his innocence.