Convicted for killing Vronzettie Cox from forensic evidence found
at the time, Paul Hildwin was on Death Row for nearly three decades.
But new DNA tests proved the semen found on her underwear at the
crime scene did not belong to him, the court said.
"This is huge," said Martin McClain, his longtime attorney. "Of
course, for Mr. Hildwin, there is nothing that can give him back
those 30 years."
McClain said he had not been able to tell Hildwin about the
decision, but was scheduled to speak with him on Friday. Hildwin was
also represented by attorneys from the Innocence Project, which uses
DNA testing to exonerate wrongly convicted people.
Although DNA testing proved in 2003 that Hildwin's semen was not at
the scene, McClain said he had to fight for years to get Florida
officials to run the crime scene evidence through a national DNA
database that ultimately matched it to the victim's boyfriend.
Hildwin had told investigators that he had hitched a ride with the
pair several days before the body was found, but said he left them
by the roadside after the two got into an argument. Hildwin said the
boyfriend should have been the suspect.
"When you discover you made a mistake, you don't want to sweep it
under the rug, you want to acknowledge it and fix it," McClain said.
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The court has ordered his case sent back for a new trial. Florida
Attorney General Pam Bondi is reviewing the Hildwin ruling, a
This is the second Death Row case recently overturned by the Florida
Supreme Court. Earlier this month, the court found there was
insufficient DNA evidence in the murder conviction of Carl Dausch,
who has been on death row since 2012.
(Editing by Sandra Maler)
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