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After decade on death row for crime he didn’t commit, man fights for compensation

Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin with his hand on his chest after his exoneration hearing last year. (Photo: Innocence Project/Phelan Ebanhack/AP)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Clemente Aguirre-Jarquin’s conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. Now he’s fighting the state over compensation for being incarcerated for a decade.

Under state law, a wrongly convicted person has 90 days to file for payments, but after the state high court set him free in 2016, Aguirre-Jarquin remained behind bars.

Attorney Josh Dubin said that’s why Aguirre-Jarquin missed the 90-day window. He’s hoping to get a special master to recommend lawmakers compensate him anyway.

“This indeed is the most unique case I have ever encountered. It is the strongest case of actual innocence I have ever seen and it is the most overwhelming case of guilt of another person I have ever seen,” said Innocence Project Attorney Josh Dubin.

Aguirre-Jarquin, a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant from Honduras at the time, found the bodies of Cheryl Williams and her mother, Carol Bareis, in their Altamonte Springs home in 2004, but told authorities he didn’t call police for fear of being deported.

Aguirre-Jarquin was convicted in 2006. He was in prison for 15 years, 10 of those on death row.

The daughter of one of two women stabbed to death has confessed, but she has not been charged with the crime. The State Attorney in Seminole County fighting the case contends Aguirre-Jarquin is still the guilty person.

In lawmakers agree to compensate Aguirre-Jarquin, he could receive up to $50,000 for each of the nearly 15 years he spent behind bars.