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DA Watch: Students’ Hard Work Results in Exoneration of Two Men After 10 Years Into Their Life Sentences

Justice has been victorious all because of the hard work of students involved with both (1) UT-Austin’s Texas Center for Actual Innocence and (2) the Innocence Network at UT-Arlington.

Long after the criminal justice system placed Claude Alvin Simmons, Jr., 54, and Christopher Shun Scott, 39, into Texas prisons for life and threw away the key, these two student organizations originated the efforts that resulted in this week’s exoneration of the two men. What a wonderful thing.

The Killing of Alfonso Aguilar in 1997 & Six Minute Jury Deliberations

Back in 1997, Alfonso Aguilar was shot and killed during a home-invasion. Then, get this: the jury deliberated a mere 6 minutes before convicting Simmons. Scott was also convicted for the murder in a back-to-back trial with Simmons. For ten years, Simmons and Scott — innocent men — have been incarcerated for a murder they didn’t commit.

Students Take Their Concerns to the Dallas County DA

The UT-Austin and UT-Arlington students took their concerns about Scott and Simmons to the Dallas County District Attorney. Working with the Dallas Police Department, the DA’s office opened the cold case and reviewed not only the physical evidence from the crime scene but the confession by another man, Alonzo Hardy, who also passed a lie detector test where he admitted to the killing of Mr. Aguilar so long ago.

Alonzo Hardy Confesses that he and Don Michael Anderson Committed the Murder During a Robbery/Home Invasion

The truth will out, as Shakespeare wrote — and now we know that Alonzo Hardy and his pal, not Simmons and Scott, were the ones robbing the Aguilar home back in 1997 when a capital murder was committed.  Hardy’s pal Anderson has been arrested.  Simmons and Scott have been exonerated and are expected to be released from jail this week. 

Hats off to the UT students who started this ball rolling.  And, congratulations to Mr. Simmons, Mr. Scott, and their loved ones on this happy day.


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