Alfred Dewayne Brown’s conviction and death sentence was thrown out on Wednesday by the highest criminal court in Texas after the discovery that evidence was withheld by the District Attorney’s office.
The case goes back to 2003 in Houston when police officer Charles R. Clark was shot and killed during the burglary of a check cashing business by a man who looked similar to Brown. Although Brown had an alibi, claiming he was at his girlfriend’s apartment at the time of the shooting and had even made a call on the land line that could prove his whereabouts, his defense never presented evidence to back it up.
Packing the evidence against him, his girlfriend, Ericka Jean Dockery, changed her story after being threatened with having her children taken out of her custody.
“If we find out that you’re not telling the truth, we’re coming after you,” one grand juror told Dockery, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“You know the kids are going to be taken by Child Protective Services, and you’re going to the penitentiary and you won’t see your kids for a long time,” the foreman added, threatening Dockery with what would happen if she was caught lying to the court.
Her initial story was that Brown was asleep on her couch at the time when prosecutors believed the shooting occurred. She also confirmed the land-line call. But at her boyfriend’s trial in October of 2005, she stated that Brown had told her he was at the scene of the crime.
Brown was then convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
In 2007 law firm K&L Gates LLP began searching for the evidence to back up Brown’s claims.
Reports from the Chronicle show that in the spring of 2013, one of the Houston homicide detectives found a box of documents from Brown’s case in his garage. Among those documents was a phone record that showed a land line call made from Dockery’s apartment at the exact time Brown had said.
Apparently the prosecution had requested the phone record and did not submit it as evidence. The district attorney’s office said that the document was simply misplaced.
Brown’s case has now been sent back to the lower court for retrial.