• Seminole County death-row inmate freed after 14 years may not receive money from state

    By: Jeff Levkulich , James Tutten


    SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - New evidence freed a man, once sentenced to die for murder.

    But now the state attorney in Seminole County is asking a judge to deny Clemente Aguirre state money to help him rebuild his life.

    The state attorney said just because they decided not to prosecute at that time, doesn't mean they believe he is innocent.



    They hope a judge sees it that way, too, and denies him that money meant for people who are wrongfully incarcerated.

    After 14 years behind bars, Aguirre became a free man in November.

    Aguirre was sentenced to die for the 2004 stabbing deaths of his neighbors, Carol Bareis and her daughter Cheryl Williams, in their Altamonte Springs trailer.

    But new DNA evidence surfaced that put a different suspect at the crime scene.

    Just before Aguirre's new trial was to start, Samantha Williams, Cheryl Williams' daughter, allegedly confessed to several people that she committed the crime.

    Last month, Aguirre filed a motion to seek more than $700,000 under Florida's Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Act.

    But state attorney Phil Archer said Aguirre missed the deadline to file. 

    Archer said Aguirre should have filed in November 2016, when his conviction was vacated.

    Archer also believes Aguirre may not be innocent. 

    The state attorney's filing points to all the evidence that suggests Aguirre could still be prosecuted in the future, such as the amount of blood found on Aguirre's shorts, socks, shirt, underwear and shoes.

    They also point to only one set of bloody footprints at the murder scene. 

    Prosecutors also point out the murder weapon, a Sysco brand chef's knife that had both victims' blood on it and was discovered at Aguirre's property, adding there is significant evidence that the knife is connected to Aguirre and that he possessed it before the murders.

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