The state's highest criminal appeals court on Wednesday overturned the aggravated robbery conviction of a man arrested during the Tulia drug sting more than a decade ago.See the brief, per curiam opinion. All those directly convicted based on Coleman's testimony long ago won their freedom, but because Barrow's case was a probation revocation, neither his case nor his twin brother's similar charges were dismissed along with the others.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals released a ruling Wednesday that grants Mandis Barrow, 32, a new court hearing on his probation revocation.
In its ruling, the high court said Barrow was entitled to a new hearing because of questions about former narcotics agent Tom Coleman's reliability and "pattern of perjury."
Barrow was serving deferred adjudication, a type of probation, for aggravated robbery when Coleman leveled charges that Barrow had sold drugs more than a decade ago.
In 1999, Barrow was arrested as part of the discredited Tulia raids, leading a judge to revoke his probation and impose a 20-year prison term.
In its ruling Wednesday, the appeals court agreed that a lower court would not have revoked Barrow's probation without Coleman's testimony.
The Tulia cases rocked the foundations of the justice system in this state. Occurring about the time Texas also saw its first DNA exonerations, ultimately the scandal led to the undoing of all of Texas' drug task forces when Gov. Rick Perry shifted their money to other priorities. It's regrettable, though, that justice comes so late for Mandis and Landis Barrow. I wish them both luck moving on with their lives.
MORE: From Alan Bean.