SAN ANTONIO -- A Bexar County judge ordered Monday afternoon to expunge the convictions of four San Antonio women wrongfully convicted of raping two young girls nearly two decades ago.
Kristie Mayhugh, Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera and Anna Vasquez spent nearly 15 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the cases in 2017 against each women in the "San Antonio Four." The women's stories were the focus of an award-winning documentary, "Southwest of Salem" that aired on the Investigation Discovery channel.
The "San Antonio 4" were convicted in 1998 after two of Ramirez's nieces, ages 7 and 9, accused them of sexually assaulting and threatening to kill them in 1994.
Three of the women were released in 2013 after one of the nieces recanted and challenges were raised about expert testimony.
"Well, we did it!" Ramirez said. "We finally made it through."
"Oh my coming back to this court room with the original conviction, it's difficult," Vasquez said. "It brings up a lot of memories. At the same time it's a joyous occasion."
The expuction erases all of the records related to the case.
"An exoneration is like the surgery to correct the main problem, but you still have scars from it," said Allison Clayton, deputy director for the Innocence Project of Texas. "The expunction gets rid of the scars."