by David M. Reutter
A Texas judge, Ramona Franklin, declared Otis Mallet “actually innocent” of selling crack cocaine to a Houston police officer, saying “What a miscarriage of justice we have all witnessed with your case, Mr. Mallet.”
That finding may be the tip of the iceberg as former Houston police officer Gerald Goines’ career is scrutinized in the wake of his arrest on felony murder charges.
Otis Mallet, 64, and his brother Steven were arrested in 2008 on drug delivery charges and convicted three years later. Mallet, a church deacon, was sentenced to eight years in prison and served two before being paroled. Goines said that while undercover he paid the Malletts $200 for a “quarter” of crack cocaine.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg and Mallett’s attorney, Jonathan Lander, in a joint filing, argued in “precise detail” how Goines had lied, failed to disclose crucial evidence, and perpetrated a “fraud” in Mallet’s case, houstonchronicle.com reports.
Goines told the jury he used “police money” to make the buy, but expense reports show that he never filed any draw money during the month of Mallet’s arrest. He also testified that he saw Mallet remove the drugs from a blue can. Yet testing the can did not find Mallet’s fingerprints on it.
“Now we know he was lying and using the district attorney’s office as a tool to convict people wrongfully as early as 2008,” said Ogg. “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.”
Around 14,000 cases Goines was involved in over his 34-year career are being reviewed, but even with that presumption from the district attorney, defendants’ results will hinge upon other evidence in the case. The Court of Criminal Appeals has described a finding of innocence as a “Herculean burden” that the defendant must satify, said Elsa Alcala, a former Court of Criminal Appeals judge who retired in 2018.
Goines’ attorney, Nicole DeBorde, called Ogg’s actions a “media stunt.” Referring to the active felony murder charges against Goines, DeBorde said, “The DAs office is using this as a way to bolster their position in the other case.”
Goines is accused of writing a fraudulent search warrant affidavit for a January 2019 drug raid that killed Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas in their home. To justify the raid, Goines invented a heroin purchase by a nonexistent confidential informant.
The Mallet case, Ogg said, “raises questions about how buy money was being used by the Houston Police Department’s narcotics division and used by narcotics officers like Gerald Goines and how drug payouts were being supervised — and audited.”
Mallet’s case now proceeds to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to make a determination on Franklin’s recommendation to find Mallet “actually innocent.”
Sources: reason.com, houstonchronicle.com
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