A Texas man is one step closer to complete freedom after a judge recommended exoneration for a drug charge that hinged on the testimony of a deceptive police officer.
Otis Mallet served two years in prison after he was arrested for selling drugs in 2008. His conviction was based on the word of former Houston police narcotics department officer Gerald Goines, who claimed he saw Mallet selling drugs while he was working undercover. More than a decade after the saga began, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office claims Goines lied about everything, according to The Houston Chronicle.
“What a miscarriage of justice we have all witnessed with your case, Mr. Mallet,” District Court Judge Ramona Franklin said on Monday, before she declared Mallet was “actually innocent.”
Franklin acted in response to a joint filing from Jonathan Landers, Mallet’s lawyer, and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, who argued the case should be thrown out due to the influence of Goines testimony.
“We are now one step closer to reversing the injustice inflicted upon Mr. Mallet and his family,” Landers said in a statement.
After the hearing, Ogg said she wants Mallet to know his ordeal “will have meaning,” per KTRK.
Goines has been under investigation for over a year after he led a January 2019 botched drug raid that ended with a shootout. A couple, Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, was killed by the police in the raid. A few weeks later, investigators determined Goines lied about the drug transaction that led to the raid, which authorities say was an action that was the culmination of an investigation that began when a neighbor called police with a false allegation against the couple. The findings led Ogg’s office to scrutinize over 14,000 cases Goines had worked on, including Mallet’s arrest and subsequent conviction.
In 2008, Goines claimed he asked for $200 in “police money” to buy drugs from Mallet and his brother. After he told the department he had purchased a “quarter” of crack cocaine, the brothers were arrested. Mallet was sentenced to eight years in prison and served two years before he was paroled. After his case was reopened, investigators noticed holes in the story. Expense reports showed Goines never put in a request for the money. Additionally, Goines said he saw Mallet remove the drugs from a blue can, but his fingerprints were not found on the container.
“Now we know he was lying and using the district attorney’s office as a tool to convict people wrongfully as early as 2008,” Ogg said. “Anybody who was convicted as a result of Gerald Goines’ testimony, or involvement in a case that is significant or relevant, will now be given a presumption when they file their writ that Goines’ testimony or evidence in their case was false.”
Goines is facing several state and federal charges, including murder, for the botched raid. Nicole DeBorde, Goines’ attorney, said Ogg is using the Mallet case to perpetrate a “media stunt.”
“The DA’s office is using this as way to bolster their position in the other case,” said DeBorde.
Goines was supposed to testify during a hearing for Mallet a few weeks ago but DeBorde told the court he was unavailable due to surgery. The judge didn’t accept the excuse, and Goines eventually showed up with bandages on his face. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before he left the courthouse without speaking to anyone.
As for Mallet, his case is heading to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which will determine if he will be declared innocent.