SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — After spending more than 14 years behind bars, a man who was on death row after being convicted in a double murder was exonerated of all charges and released from prison Monday.
A judge dismissed all charges against Clemente Aguirre in the middle of jury selection and said there will be no retrial.
Aguirre, 38, was originally convicted of the murders and sentenced to death in 2006.
He was in the country illegally working as a prep chef in Heathrow when he was accused in the 2004 murders of his neighbors, Carol Bareis and Cheryl Williams, who were found stabbed to death in their Altamonte Springs mobile home.
Aguirre told police he had been drunk and had walked into the murder scene looking for a beer. Their blood was on his shoes and clothes.
But in 2011, the Innocence Project stepped in and helped find new DNA evidence showing Williams' daughter's blood was at the scene and information that her daughter had confessed several times to other people that she was the one who committed the murders.
The Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction and the retrial was called off since the judge dismissed the charges.
Aguirre told the judge he forgives everyone who has wronged him and is thankful for the judge’s decision.
"I thank you for it from the bottom of my heart. I thank you. I thank everybody who worked hard and to God,” he said.
Aguirre told Channel 9 as he left prison Monday that he would call his mother in Nicaragua and eat a steak dinner.
"I'm going to call my mama. That's the first thing I'm gonna do. I'm gonna call my mama. And maybe I can eat something," he said. "To me, this is justice as it is now. This is what I've been looking for for 14 years, four months and 19 days."
Aguirre's attorneys said they hope he can gain asylum in the United States.
No one else has been charged in connection with the double murder.
Cox Media Group