SAN ANTONIO – “This is something we’ve prayed for, for a long, long time,” Maria Vasquez says.
The mother’s prayers are about to be answered. She’s just weeks away from watching her daughter Anna Vasquez walk out of prison.
Anna was one of four women convicted of sexually abusing two little girls back in 1994.
And now, all these years later, one victim recanted her statement and Anna will soon be released on parole.
"You have been with me through all this, Mom,” Maria reads from a handwritten note.
It’s a letter of love from a daughter behind bars, mailed to her childhood home.
"I miss you. God is great. He has blessed me and I will see you soon,” Maria tearfully reads the end of the letter.
She’ll bring Anna home from prison November 2 and says it almost feels like a dream.
"I know it sounds silly but I'm thinking about getting down on my knees and thanking God for having her back,” Maria says.
Anna’s now 37 and was just 19 when she, along with her close female friends, were accused of sexually abusing one of the woman’s two nieces.
"What was happening in the courtroom was people who didn't know her – that was the frustrating part,” Maria says.
This case was especially sensitive because all the suspects either had been or were currently involved in lesbian relationships.
All four women told juries they were innocent.
"That was the most heartbreaking for me because I knew it wasn't true, and they sounded so credible,” Maria says. “They sounded so credible and it wasn't true."
Since then, the women and their families have fought to clear their names, with help from the Texas Innocence Project and an Austin documentary crew. The documentary’s producer says their cameras were rolling as one of the victims came forward with the truth.
"She wrote a letter. She recanted everything,” Maria says. “She said that she was forced to say the things that she said because, I believe, her father was going to beat her up."
A startling admission that’s making it possible for Anna to leave prison and come home, but she still won’t quite be a free woman.
"She will still have that charge, that cloud over her head and registered as a sex offender,” Maria says. “They're going to have that the rest of their lives unless they're completely exonerated."
The other three convicted suspects are still in prison and Maria says they’re hoping Anna’s release, plus the documentary, will mean they’ll get to walk free one day and clear their names, too.