HOUSTON, Texas – Prosecutors announced Wednesday they believe 69 additional people might have been convicted on false evidence from a former Houston police officer whose cases are being reviewed following a deadly drug raid.
The announcement comes after judges earlier this month declared innocent two brothers who had been convicted based on testimony from former officer Gerald Goines.
Goines’ work with the Houston Police Department's narcotics unit has come under scrutiny following the January 2019 drug raid in which Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58, were killed.
Prosecutors allege Goines, 55, lied to obtain the warrant to search the couple's home by claiming that a confidential informant had bought heroin there. Goines later said there was no informant and that he had bought the drugs himself, they allege. Five officers, including Goines, were injured in the raid.
“We need to clear people convicted solely on the word of a police officer whom we can no longer trust,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Nicole DeBorde, Goines’ attorney, said the announcement by Ogg’s office was a way to “poison” potential jurors in Goines’ case and for Ogg to promote herself ahead of a hotly contested Democratic primary on Tuesday for her office.
“But because these unfounded and unsupported allegations conveniently align with her very public use of the case in her campaign and offer an end run around the rules prohibiting her from discussing the facts of the pending case, she issues press release after press release, the latest in her last push before Super Tuesday,” DeBorde said.
Earlier this month, Otis Mallet and his brother Steven were declared innocent by judges after their attorneys and prosecutors agreed that Goines had lied during their trials about buying drugs from the siblings in 2008. Otis Mallet was sentenced to eight years in prison and later paroled while his brother pleaded guilty to a drug charge and was sentenced to 10 months in jail.
A final ruling on the Mallet brothers’ cases is pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Prosecutors on Wednesday filed motions asking judges to appoint attorneys for the 69 individuals so that their cases can be reviewed to see if their convictions should be overturned.
Most of the 69 cases are related to drug charges in which individuals received sentences ranging from a few months in the county jail to four years in state prison. Goines was the only witness to the drug offense in all these cases, prosecutors said. None of the 69 individuals are still imprisoned.
Since the raid, prosecutors have been reviewing thousands of cases handled by the Houston Police Department's narcotics division, Goines and another ex-officer, Steven Bryant.
Ogg said Wednesday that defendants in cases from 2008 to 2019 in which Goines played a substantial role are entitled to a presumption that he provided false evidence to secure their convictions.
Goines is facing two counts of felony murder in state court for the deaths of Tuttle and Nicholas and is facing seven counts in federal court over allegedly providing false information in the raid.
Bryant is also facing state and federal charges in the deadly raid. Both men were relieved of duty after the shooting and later retired.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70