Free Hannah!!!

by Janice

Tonight, I curled up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn, exhausted and ready to relax.

But instead of relaxing before I turned in for an early night, I watched a story that shocked and enraged me.

As the show progressed, I kept hoping for a happy ending – that when the judge announced the verdict, I would hear “not guilty.” Then I would sigh in relief, go rinse out my popcorn bowl and kiss my kids goodnight with a peaceful heart that the justice system had worked.

But it wasn’t a happy ending! I watched a real life nightmare. Now, I am angry and ready to fight to return a mother to her family.

Did you also see 20/20′s story on Hannah Overton? Hannah is the mother of five convicted of capital murder in the death of Andew Burd, the four year old boy she and her husband Larry were adopting from the foster system.

After watching the story, I felt helpless and furious. So I went online to see if I could find out more – and to see if there is anything I do to help.

I went to ABC.com and discovered FreeHannah.com.

If you want to learn more about this case and how to help fight this injustice, visit FreeHannah.com. You can send the family support and have your voice heard!

Make sure you read some of Hannah’s letters while you are at the site. She is doing incredible ministry while in prison. Her faith and selflessness is amazing as she serves God in the midst of her trials.

THE WRONGFUL CONVICTION OF HANNAH OVERTON

BACKGROUND:

Hannah Overton was found guilty of capital murder “by omission,” also referred to as “failure to act” – by delaying in seeking medical attention for Andrew Burd, the four year old boy that she and her husband Larry were adopting from the foster system. Andrew died from hypernatremia, or sodium intoxication, commonly called “salt poisoning.” His first symptom was vomiting, then chills. Hannah initially treated the symptoms, not aware of what was wrong.

Hypernatremia is extremely difficult to diagnose, virtually impossible to treat once it reaches a threshold point, and takes about an hour and a half before the symptoms fully manifest. That’s exactly the amount of time it was before Hannah and her husband Larry arrived with Andrew at the nearest Urgent Care clinic, having driven him there because they feared an ambulance would take too long. Medical staff at the 2nd hospital where he was taken had to run lab tests to get an accurate diagnosis of his condition.

Prosecutors asked the jury to find Hannah guilty of intentionally poisoning Andrew. The jury instructions and charge also gave them the option to find her guilty of omission – of delaying seeking medical help – without specifying that they believed that she intended or even knew that a delay would cause him harm. Hannah’s defense attorneys objected to the latter charge, but the judge allowed it to stand. A poll of all 12 jurors revealed that all found her guilty of “omission,” but not of poisoning Andrew. The jury was not aware of the mandatory sentence for capital murder – which in Texas is either execution or life without parole. She received the latter sentence.

She awaits her appeal. Oral arguments are scheduled for Sept 11, 2008.
-quoted from FreeHannah.com



Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Candy Cook October 25, 2008 at 4:29 am

I think I only saw the beginning, where the foster mom and dad were explaining that the boy would eat anything and everything. They had even discussed this with the officials, who only told them “Foster children have problems and it will pass.” But, they said, it only got worse over time. I didn’t see the trial part, and this is pretty shocking to read. That is just crazy.

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2 Amy October 25, 2008 at 7:17 am

I have not followed this at all but I am not surprised — authorities always want someone to blame and it is wrong. Very frustrating and sad to say the least.

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3 trisha October 25, 2008 at 8:08 am

I hate things like this because it leaves me so…..affected, you know? I think part of the problem is that states have more money in the system and they get X amount per year and if they dont use it, its gone. Its the same way w/ the military…so at the end, they blow it all at once. No, you cant just NOT use it, you have to find a way. I spent 7.5 years married to a military officer and he would come home and tell me since budgets were coming up, they were spending. WTF! LOL

SOmetimes also there are over zealous prosectuers, ready to make an “example”…and for what?

I hardly ever bring charlotte to the dr. If she is running a fever or throwing up, i take care of her. I would not drag her out in the car just for a dr to say…she is sick. KWIM? Heck, drs anymore cant even give cough medicine.

Let me know if i can help you in any way

trisha
momdot.com

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4 The Diaper Diaries October 25, 2008 at 8:23 am

Wow, I didn’t see this, but this is SHOCKING. I am so sad for this woman and wondering how the people who have so aggressively prosectued her can sleep at night.

We can turn our eye to such cases, but if we do, we could be next

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5 tracey October 25, 2008 at 8:26 am

Sooooo…. anytime a child dies due to accident, the parent has committed murder by omission? Anytime some strange illness THAT WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT manifests in our children, we are to be medical encyclopedias so that we can diagnose and SAVE them?!?

Life is MESSY. Bad things happen. I don’t claim to know all of the facts in this particular case, but, if it is as simple as the little boy got sick, and they eventually drove him to the doctor, (which is more than I generally do for the “Basic Flu” which is what vomitting and chills sounds like to me) HOW was she omitting care?!?

Another thing that makes me furious about this? The bad press it gives for parents who may have been considering foster care or adoption of an older child. Older kids have different issues than babies. And when you are fostering a child, you are under closer scrutiny. Was this matter brought to such high extremes simply because he wasn’t their biological child?

I am heading over to the website now. Thank you for bringing it to our attention…

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6 Katie October 25, 2008 at 9:20 am

I watched this last night and could not believe what I was hearing. I was fuming when I went in to my husband to explain what happened. He’s a nurse, so he helped explain a little more. With salt poisoning, once the symptoms finally show up, it’s already too late. And with a 4 year old, even if they had gotten him to the hospital immediately, there wouldn’t much that the doctors could do. Even hooking him up to an IV and giving him the fluids to flush his system would cause a cardiac problem and he would most likely die anyway.

The ADA was making me SO mad. She still believes that Hannah poured salt water down the boys throat. Even the doctor from the ER said that wouldn’t have caused the salt poisoning.

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7 Kelly October 25, 2008 at 9:29 am

Wow. Good grief. This really is totally shameful. We all knew our justice system didn’t work; this is proof. I am going to visit the site and see what I can do.

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8 Jennifer (LittleGreenSecrets) October 25, 2008 at 12:17 pm

I regularly watch 20/20 because I like John Stossel’s segments. I believe this is the first time that I have seen a story about a convicted killer and believed they were innocent. It broke my heart when they showed her family packing up to go visit her and the fact that she was given life. I believe it was the ADA…She reminds me of a person who, regardless of the truth, has a mission and won’t be deterred. It’s as if she was blinded to any real evidence except what would support a conviction. God, please protect others from her growing career.

Thank you for the support site information because, also a first, I was wondering what I could do to assist in her appeal efforts. I just see her as a loving mother and this could possibly happen to any one of us.

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9 hedy September 7, 2012 at 10:07 pm

sept 7 2012.. you were right i just got down watching it.. they accused her of lying to win the case but she is still working and got nothing.. i missed the end to see if hannah went free…..

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10 Sisterlisa October 25, 2008 at 12:17 pm

For crying out loud. You know this just paves the way for further persecution of Christians.

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11 casual friday everyday October 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm

I too watched this and felt she was wrongly convicted. And it isn’t often that I feel that way when they profile a story like this. Usually there is another side of the story that sways me into believing she really did it. Not this one. I really believe that she didn’t kill him nor did she know he was going to die from delaying treatment.

I remember when my 2 year old fell off the table. I was worried but called my husband and Mother and we all felt that if we just watched for signs he was injured it would be fine. And it was fine. Nothing bad happened. But what if it had? Would I be sitting in prison because I waited a couple hours to see if he was showing signs?

It’s so hard being a parent and deciding what to do when a child is running a fever or fell or whatever. I do believe she is innocent and needs to be released to her 5 kids.

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12 Lani October 25, 2008 at 4:16 pm

How horrible!!

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13 Pamela Vizuete October 25, 2008 at 5:34 pm

I also have never seen a more fairly presented story on 20/20. In the past, I was given to believe taking things out of context was the norm. What a shock! Or, more likely, what a way for God to show His mighty, righteous hand. It doens’t take a high degree of discernment to see that even 20/20 wants Hannah to receive justice. I was a member of Hannah’s church and an acquaintance. I marveled at her godliness then and now. Pray for justice for Hannah, not just freedom. Those in authority must be made to see God’s truth and recognize that it is God’s doing.
One thing, though of lessor importance, is that 20/20 did not make mention of the chief investigator’s connection to child welfare through his own wife. It gives a possible reason for his prejudgement and narrow investigation of the facts. Any one reading this ever been influenced by their spouse’s opinion? (The wife has since been fired.) Now things take on a new perspective. May God be glorified.

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14 RefreshMom October 25, 2008 at 9:05 pm

I did see that story and was horrified that a jury could make such an assinine decision! I was most angered at the two jurors who spoke up. Forgive me, but my impression was that they were too stupid to be jurors! They don’t know what “reasonable doubt” even means, let alone the actual charges against her.

I served on a drunk driving case once and there wasn’t any actual evidence on which to convict the guy, so we had to acquit even though we didn’t want to (because who doesn’t want to see drunk drivers locked up). We had a couple of hold-outs on that jury that kept saying “But what if….” But we don’t get to convict people (most of the time) on “what if’s.” It’s supposed to be on actual evidence that they DID what they are being tried for.

Even before they reached the end of the story I told DH that I’d never even heard of “salt poisoning.” And while we know it’s not good to ingest a lot of salt, I didn’t know it could kill you. And wouldn’t have known that the symptoms that the boy exhibited were signs that he was dying or even that he needed immediate medical care.

Yes, a child died and YES that’s a tragedy any time it happens. But sometimes you can’t blame someone for something they never intended to have happen! Next thing you know, parents will be convicted of negligent homicide when a child wraps a blind cord around their neck or some other equally horrible, preventable but not always foreseeable tragedy!

Thank you for posting the information about how to help. Stories like that make me fear for the future of our justice system. This is not how it was intended to work.

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15 Lizzie October 26, 2008 at 7:33 am

this is just so sad, and unfair. i agree that it makes us all lose faith in our justice system.

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16 Twisted Cinderella October 27, 2008 at 4:34 pm

That is so terribly unfair and incredibly sad!

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17 Ms. Nancy February 19, 2010 at 10:42 pm

After watching 20/20 all I can say is God bless and look out after Larry, Hannah and their family.

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18 alicia February 19, 2010 at 10:43 pm

2 years later and i saw the 20/20 with Hannah. what can I do? I can not believe that she will stay in PRISON, this was an accident. I too would have driven to the ER. I AM SO FRUSTERATED!

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19 robbin February 19, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I WILL PRAY NOW FOR HANNAH MAY THE TRUTH SET HER FREE IN JESUS NAME AMEN.

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20 ROBBIN LEWIS February 19, 2010 at 10:46 pm

PRAY FOR TRUTH TO BE REVEAL AND SET HER FREE

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21 michael kafka February 19, 2010 at 10:47 pm

OH MY GOD!!!! A child that will eat ANYTHING!?! AND YOU BLAME THE MOTHER, JUST BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T CALL 911? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHAT AN ABUSE OF THE JUSTICE SYSTEM!!!! If the mother had ANY NOTION that the child was dying she would have called 911 instantly. You know an ambulance COST MONEY!!!!! I wouild only call for one if I knew any one of my love ones were dying!!! You know, things like strokes and heart attacks are a little more obvious, but salt posioning? I never heard of it before today. The child was already looked at BY PROFESSIONALS, blame them for not knowing that the child would posion himself. MY GOD!!! ONLY HINDSIGHT IS 20/20!!!! AND THAT’S WHAT THE MOTHER WAS CONVICTED ON. LET THIS WOMAN GO!!!!!!!!!!!!

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22 Daniel Strachan February 19, 2010 at 10:53 pm

In the circle of life we try to make a connection to understand why we must go through tough times Sometimes we can’t see it,Then in the wheel of life we make the “connection” and see why we had to go though it -It was to get us here where we make the “connection” -now we know why we had to go through it ALL!
In the medicine wheel of life everything is connected
You know the CREATOR has a plan for you you just don’t know what the blessing is yet!

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23 angela proctor February 19, 2010 at 10:54 pm

I just watched the story on 20/20, I feel like crying. This woman needs to be with her husband and kids! I can’t believe our system works this way, a mother of 5 can go to jail for life, (for not calling 911) and rushing the child to the ER, and OJ can kill two people and get away with it! Hang in there Hanna, God is watching!

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24 Gene & Sara Vance February 19, 2010 at 11:22 pm

We just saw this story on abc news and our hearts are very sad. We do not believe this lady deliberately tried to harm a hair on the child’s head much less try to kill him! From the evidence presented it would appear to us that perhaps he did consume a large amount of salt or the Zatarin seasoning when he invaded the pantry. God bless these people! May they get a re-trial or hearing and be freed of these charges!!

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25 Sherri February 20, 2010 at 6:03 am

I, too, was outraged by the 20/20 story about Hannah and the outcome of the trial against her regarding the son she and her husband, Larry, adopted through the foster care system. As a foster mother of 33 children throughout the years and also a teacher of prospective foster and adoptive parents, I always made sure to point out that a common trait of children who’ve been neglected is hoarding food, hiding it, eating whatever they can whenever they can, etc. because they’re used to not knowing when or where their next meal will be. I also made it a point to teach my classes various methods to help resolve some of those issues. I was one of the first actual foster parents allowed to teach other prospective foster and adoptive parents and I did it because I believed so strongly in making sure that they were told the full truth about what they were about to take on. The agency wasn’t always so happy about that, but I got loads of thanks from the newly licensed parents! Anyone wanting to foster or adopt children so they could earn a ‘gold star to get into heaven’ was told to rethink reality for the sake of themselves and our children.

Although, I’d never heard of ‘salt poisoning’ either, there are many measures these adoptive parents could have been taught to help Andrew through what had to have been another terribly emotional and confusing transition period for him even when he was moved from his foster family to his ‘forever home’. No 4-year-old has any concept of relative time frame or the term ‘forever’. All this child knew was that he’d been moved from one home he’d been in for close to 2 years to another and there was no way he wasn’t going to be affected by that! I am in no way blaming the Overtons or Hannah for anything that happened as a result of Andy’s transition. I give them a great deal of credit for being willing to adopt a child they knew came from such a disruptive and possibly drug addicted background. I DO blame whatever agency placed this child with them IF they were not totally honest or did not provide the tools the family needed to work with the possible situations that might arise given the child’s history. By the way, I’m an atheist, and I don’t think “god” (by anyone’s religious beliefs)is to blame or is going to help this woman…she’ll need dollars, not prayers! She’ll also need more anecdotal support, so I’d like to see experienced foster parents across the country get behind this family and attest to the type of behavior we see in many of our children of all ages when it comes to the many ‘food’ issues that arise from neglect and abuse. I think it’s time that we, as Foster Parents, step up and stop allowing the agencies to expect us to work wonders with ‘our’ kids when we’re not given all the pertinent information and sometimes even lied to in order to get us to accept the placement. They need to stop withholding vital information and provide required services so that these kinds of incidents can be prevented in MOST cases. In the Overton’s case, I’m wondering if anyone ever apprised them of the plethora of ‘food issues’ that arise with former foster children. I, too, will be going to their site to see what I can do to help a woman who had no blame in this poor child’s death and whose husband and 5 other children are now also paying the price.

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26 joseph February 24, 2010 at 2:14 am

I heard about this story a year or so ago, as life goes on – I thought that Hannah would have been released from prison – watching the 20/20 segment, I was shocked – the prosecution was wrong, the judge was wrong, the jury was wrong, Hannah being in prison is very, very wrong.

I know she did not murder her child – being adopted or not – I think the prosecution wanted this case dead and quick. This young lady shall be released! This is not only an incorrect outcome, but a tradegy for all of us!

Best wishes, My thoughts go out to you – Hannah!

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27 Jamie Curran May 6, 2012 at 8:25 pm

I realize it has been almost 4 years since you posted this, but she was granted a hearing to see if she deserves to be freed, given a new trial, or has to stay in prison. Here is a link for you to check out: http://www.caller.com/news/2012/apr/30/day-six-of-hannah-overton-capital-murder-hearing/

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28 hedy September 7, 2012 at 10:06 pm

sept 7, 2012->just watched the latest hannah on 202/20 about that prosecutor lying..admitting to be an alcoholic and did not see the end of the show…was she freed???? 5 years after she was sent to prison???
Did you all know PROSECUTORS can NOT be held liable for anything they do?????

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29 Dawn September 11, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I first saw this story 4 years ago when Hannah was featured. I could not believe that this family was convicted on capital murder! I say family because the entire family is paying for this rediculous accusation. I just saw the most recent episode and that Hannah is having hearings today about the corruption in the prosecutions case. I hope and pray that true justice emerges for Hannah and she can be reunited with her husband and children. To think that her children have been robbed of their mother is so very disturbing! The baby she had while in prison is now 4 and has not had her mother one day of her life! Our court systems are so corrupt and vile. In my opinion, the prosecutor who put Hannah in prison should serve time when she is freed! How can these people sleep at night? Power and greed and putting a notch in their prosecutorial belt is more important!!! My prayers are with Hannah daily. This injustice must end for her!!!

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