The judge presiding over the case of Sabrina Limon, the woman who killed her husband back in 2002 by dropping him off an overpass while he was tied to the back of their SUV, has denied Limon’s request for a new trial, meaning she will now serve at least 8 years in prison before being eligible for parole.
Factual errors in the jury instructions
Sabrina Limon was found guilty of first degree murder and robbery for a crime she did not commit. On November 13th, 2012 when she went to a car wash in El Monte with her husband and two children, the victim walked past them and was shot in the back by someone else on the street. The prosecution argued that it was Sabrina who shot the victim.
The defense disagreed saying that it would be impossible for Sabrina to shoot from where she was standing because there were cars blocking her view of him. This is important because there is no DNA evidence linking her to the murder weapon or fingerprints on the gun.
The jury instructions said that if they had doubt about whether or not she committed the crime then they should find her not guilty.
Murder without malice
In 2003, 18-year-old Sabrina Limon was charged with murder without malice for the death of her newborn child. The conviction has been upheld by two California courts.
In 2001, Ms. Limon gave birth to a baby boy at home and choked him to death. There is no question that she killed her son; it is only whether she did so with malice aforethought or not. The jury found Ms. Limon guilty of murder without malice and sentenced her to 25 years to life in prison in 2003. However, evidence from Dr. Mary Jane Ward that a postpartum depression diagnosis may have caused this event was ignored.
The doctor’s conclusion might have changed their minds, said Ms. Limon’s attorney Susan Rothblum, who had attempted to prove this before the appeals court and failed.
There are also questions about why more detail wasn’t provided on how much time elapsed between when she delivered the baby and when he died as well as what happened during those minutes. Despite having filed three appeals since 2003, Ms. Limon has been unsuccessful in getting another trial.
Bias on the part of juror foreman
The foreman of the jury that sentenced Sabrina Limon to 25 years to life for second-degree murder had a bias against her. In his personal blog post, he wrote I believe there is a special place in hell reserved for people like Mrs. Limon. His prejudice towards her caused him to give an unreasonable sentence and she deserves a new trial.
Sabrina Limon’s defense team requested a new trial based on evidence that the juror foreman demonstrated bias towards Sabrina by writing such words as Mrs. Limon belongs in jail or There should be no mercy. Judge Avila denied their request saying the biases were not clearly expressed in court and they could not prove it was specific to this case.
Undue influence by investigator Victor Escobedo
Sabrina Limon was sentenced to 25 years to life on Monday. She is the first woman in Colorado sentenced to life without parole for a nonviolent crime. The investigation of her case began when Victor Escobedo, a former police officer who had recently been fired from his job for misconduct and dishonesty, contacted her employer about her. His contact lead to what many believe are charges that were brought as a result of an unduly influenced investigation and prosecution led by Escobedo.
Publicity of trial affected fairness
In 2001, a jury found Sabrina Limon guilty of murdering her two sons. She was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. The publicity of the trial and the media coverage it received made it difficult for her to find an unbiased jury. When she appealed this decision after new evidence came up that proved her innocence and showed that she had not done anything wrong in 2001. The judge denied her appeal and refused to grant her a new trial.
Judge Joseph Sanchez abused his discretion
There are many reasons why Judge Joseph Sanchez should have granted the motion for a new trial. First, there was no physical evidence linking Ms. Limon to the crime scene or to the murder weapon. Second, Ms. Limon passed two polygraph tests and had an alibi that put her miles away from the murder at the time it occurred.
Third, one of the main witnesses against Ms. Limon admitted to lying on the stand under oath in order to protect his wife from prosecution for accessory after the fact of murder. These three facts alone should have been enough to overturn her conviction and grant her a new trial as Judge Sanchez abused his discretion by not granting this motion for a new trial despite these compelling grounds for reconsideration
Insufficient evidence to support conviction
The new trial was denied because the court determined that there was not enough evidence to support the conviction. In order for a defendant to receive a new trial based on insufficient evidence, they must demonstrate the existence of clear and convincing new evidence to warrant a retrial. The court found that such evidence did not exist in this case.
In addition to denying the motion for a new trial, Judge Limon also sentenced Ms. Limon to 25 years-to-life in prison. This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make as a judge, she said. But I’m bound by my oath and my conscience.