Further, reports the Victoria Advocate ("Evidence mounts against dog handler named in lawsuits," Aug 12), a former Harris County prosecutor has come forward to accuse Pikett's dogs of picking the wrong suspect in a scent lineup and Houston police officers of covering up for the error:
News stories questioning Pikett's methods prompted former Harris County assistant district attorney Victor Wisner to call Easley. Wisner wrote an affidavit accusing Pikett and his hounds of picking out the wrong man in a lineup.
Wisner and Houston Police officers from the Westside Task Force were working on a case against a man accused in a series of burglaries. After the charges were filed, Wisner found out investigators from Houston's central burglary and theft had filed charges against another man. Those charges were based on a scent lineup by Pikett, Wisner wrote in his affidavit.
"The scent evidence was ludicrous and incriminated a person who was unrelated to the offenses," Wisner wrote. Wisner wrote an e-mail to all the prosecutors in the office, warning them that Pikett's evidence was unreliable.
"I also know the B&T officers he assisted had attempted to cover the incident up to protect Pikett's reputation," Wisner wrote.
Wisner did not want to elaborate on his cover-up allegations.
"I stand by everything in the affidavit," Wisner said.
The Houston Police Department did use Pikett in some cases, said Kese Smith, with the department of public affairs. He would not comment on the allegations in Wisner's affidavit.
Wisner's testimony seems like a significant breakthrough and it will be interesting to learn the details of the "coverup" allegation as the case go forward.
In addition to the two incidents already under litigation, my former employers at the Innocence Project of Texas are vetting dozens of other old cases involving Pikett's dogs to identify potentially innocent people who've been convicted based on this junk forensic method. Pikett is the only officer in Texas to perform "scent lineups" and claims his dogs have provided evidence in more than 2,000 cases.
See prior, related Grits coverage: