SAN ANTONIO — Kristie Mayhugh, Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera and Anna Vasquez, known as the San Antonio Four, all hope they never see the inside of a courtroom again.
- San Antonio Four get their records expunged
- The four were exonerated in 2016
- Wrongfully convicted in a 1994 alleged sexual assault case
"Coming back to this courtroom where the original conviction took place is difficult," Anna Vasquez said.
In 1994, they were accused, then convicted in a bizarre alleged sexual assault case that was said to involve satanic rituals. Five years ago, an appeals court overturned the convictions, freeing the four from prison.
In 2016, the state's highest criminal court found the four were innocent. On Monday, December 3, State Criminal District Judge Catherine Torres-Stahl signed an expunction order.
"A little more than 20 years ago, the Criminal Justice system made a horrible mistake convicting four completely innocent women," Texas Innocence Project Executive Director Mike Ware said.
"Walking in here was difficult, walking in here and reliving the same memories, you know, from before,” Mayhugh said after the hearing. “Hopefully now we can stay with the good memory instead of the bad memory."
Before leaving the Bexar County Justice Center, Rivera expressed a sense of relief.
"It's a good feeling to know that it's finally, completely over," Rivera said.
A documentary on the wrongful convictions called Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, explores the combination of homophobia, mythology, leading to their indictment.
The film earned a Peabody Award, an Emmy nomination, the Critics’ Choice Award for Best First Feature and the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary.