Palestine, Texas- “Until Proven Innocent: The Hannah Overton Story,” a documentary by P+R Productions, tells the story of the wrongful 2007 capital murder conviction against Hannah Overton in a rare case of salt poisoning, and the seven-year struggle to reveal the truth about what happened to four-year-old Andrew Byrd the day he died on October 3, 2006. The documentary will premier at the Museum for East Texas Culture, in Palestine on Thursday, November 3, at 7p.m.
Overton, a south Texas mother of five, was convicted in the 2007 salt poisoning trial for the death of her four-year-old foster son, Andrew Byrd, whom she and her husband were in the process of adopting before he died. Nueces County prosecutors said the salt poisoning was a result from Hannah punishing the four year old by force-feeding him salt, although evidence strongly suggested the child had an undiagnosed eating disorder known as “pica.” The disorder creates a desire to consume non-food items and other inappropriate substances, such as salt. Prosecutors never established a plausible motive and first argued Overton fed the child a lethal dose of salt knowing it would kill him, but she was convicted for capital murder based on a later argument that she neglected to seek help quickly enough, knowing the child would die. Overton was automatically sentenced to life in prison for murder of a child under the age of six.
In 2014, after Overton had served seven years of her life sentence, a Texas appellate court overturned her conviction and life sentence. The court found that key evidence had been withheld from the jury that could have changed the outcome, including testimony from a salt poisoning expert. the District Attorney’s office initially vowed to try her again for the 2006 death of four-year-old Andrew Byrd, but in April 2015, DA Mark Skurka “exercised prosecutor discretion in dismissing the case.”
The Museum for East Texas Culture is located at 400 Micheaux Avenue. Doors open at 6:30p.m., and the screening will begin at 7p.m. A suggested $10 donation will go to support Hannah Overton’s new charity, Syndeo Ministries. Afterward, filmmakers and special guests will hold a Q&A.
Learn more about Hannah Overton’s charity at www.syndeoministries.com.
“Until Proven Innocent: The Hannah Overton Story” Trailer by P+R Productions