Texas Mom Convicted in Salt Poisoning Death Back in Court, Hopes to Be Freed


Trying to determine exactly what happened to Andrew Burd that day has been a challenge for Overton's defense teams now and then. Based on limited health records presented at trial, it appears Andrew's status within the foster care system meant that he was never under one doctor's care for long. Any serious underlying conditions that could have made him susceptible to the salt intoxication that day are still unknown.

But one witness for the defense, Dr. Michael Moritz, a leading expert on salt poisoning at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, believes that based on similar cases of children in foster care exhibiting behavioral issues and evidence of Pica, he knows what happened to Andrew that day.

In his 2008 interview with ABC News, Moritz said, "I think [Andrew] was in one of his feeding binges. He was having a tantrum, and he was unsupervised for a brief period of time, and I believe that he ingested a large amount of salt." In court this week, Moritz testified that he still believes this was a case of acute poisoning.

Furthermore, Moritz said he didn't believe Overton knew that Andrew was dying and that even if she had rushed to the hospital immediately, the child may not have survived.

"There is literature showing that even with today's medical technology, under the best medical care, even when it happens in the hospital, you die," Moritz told the court, "This is not necessarily preventable."

Heated Testimony at Hearing

But the most surprising testimony came mid-week when former prosecutor Eastwood admitted she is an alcoholic who got sober in January 2011 and that she was taking prescription diet pills during the time of the trial. She also testified that she could not recall specifics from the trial, though she denied withholding evidence from defense attorneys at the time.

The fragile and often soft-spoken Eastwood was in stark contrast to her demeanor when she spoke to "20/20" in 2008. "I feel very confident that I did the right thing in presenting the evidence and having her convicted," Eastwood said. At the time she remained convinced that Hannah Overton knew or should have known that withholding medical treatment would kill Andrew.

"I think she was angry, enraged, with wanting to punish him and hurt him and then realized, 'Oh my gosh, I've really hurt him.'"

Eastwood's co-counsel at the time of trial, Anna Jimenez, also testified this week saying Eastwood was not "truthful," and that she exhibited bizarre behavior throughout the case.

The defense has argued that evidence pertaining to Andrew Burd's gastric content was deliberately kept from Hannah's trial attorneys. In her testimony, Jimenez said she feared that Eastwood had in fact withheld evidence. She said she raised her concerns about Eastwood's behavior to Eastwood's superiors but nothing was done.

"I was concerned there was possibility that Sandra may have been withholding this intentionally," she told the court.

Testimony is expected to conclude today, after which the trial judge will report his findings to the higher court. The Court of Criminal Appeals then has the option of freeing Overton, granting her a new trial or upholding her capital murder conviction. In the state of Texas, if a child younger than age six dies at the hands of another person, it is considered a capital case.

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