The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has thrown out a 2005 conviction and death sentence that week based on the misconduct of prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. The court found that prosecutors withheld material evidence favorable to Brown’s case in a denial of a fair trial.
District Attorney Devon Anderson on Wednesday admitted that his office had discovered that key material had not been turned over to the defense.
Brown was sentenced to death for the robbery of a check-cashing business on the April 5, 2003 that ended with the fatal shooting of veteran Houston Police Department officer Charles R. Clark and store clerk Alfredia Jones. Brown was 21 at the time and insisted that he had spent the day alone at his girlfriend’s house. He insisted that he called his girlfriend from her house after seeing television reports of the shooting. However, jurors never saw any business record of the call from the land line. In the spring of 2013, a Houston homicide detective found an old box of documents from Brown’s case while cleaning out his garage that contained a phone record showing the call was made exactly when Brown said he made it. It should have been disclosed under Brady v. Maryland. Prosecutors insist that it was simply inadvertently misplaced.
However, the case also involved allegations of grand jury abuse and coercing of witnesses by prosecutors. Ericka Dockery, Brown’s girlfriend, reportedly supported his account but a Harris County grand jury reportedly threatened to take away her children and lock her up if she didn’t change her story. She did change her story but was charged with perjury anyway and locked up for four months until she testified against Brown.
There is no mention of an examination this allegation as well as the nondisclosure for possible disciplinary actions in the case. The transcript of the extraordinary grand jury proceedings can be found here. The badgering of the witness is very unsettling.
The prosecutors will now decide whether the retry Brown.
Kudos: Michael Blott