- Houston Chronicle
- Houston Chronicle
- Houston Chronicle (Falkenberg)
- Houston Chronicle (editorial)
- Washington Post
- Associated Press
Texas' highest criminal court on Wednesday threw out the 2005 conviction and death sentence of Alfred Dewayne Brown after finding that the Harris County District Attorney's Office withheld material evidence favorable to Brown's case.It's especially poignant when someone walks away from death row a free man. (Radley Balko reported, "According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Brown is the 12th death row exoneration since 2013, and the fourth death row inmate exonerated so far this year.") What greater contrast could there be than to take someone awaiting death in a small box and send him home, declaring him free and clear?
In a brief order, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals sent the case back to the lower court for a new trial.
The DA's Office went out of its way to avoid declaring Brown "innocent" - which would have entitled him to state compensation - much as Burleson County prosecutors did to Anthony Graves, at first. But it is certainly true Alfred Brown is "not guilty." The DA's decision not to formally exonerate him likely sets the stage for civil litigation, which may not end up being the wisest choice the widow Anderson ever made. She has missed an opportunity to put the issue behind her and wear a white hat. Whatever chits she earns with the police union from sticking to her guns won't outweigh the role of obstructionist/villain she risks playing in Lisa Falkenberg's Pulitzer-Prize winning saga at the Houston Chronicle about the case.
Amazing the lengths folks will go to to keep from saying "We made a mistake."
Regardless, Mr. Brown will be considered "exonerated" by national standards, reported the Chronicle:
Monday's decision does mean Brown will be listed as "exonerated" by Maurice Possley, a senior researcher at the National Registry of Exonerations.So barring new evidence, DA Anderson and the police union likely are on the wrong side of history on this one. Brown will be "exonerated" in both public perception and historical accounts whether or not the court or the state ever formally declares him innocent.
"He fits our criteria," Possley said.
He said the requirements for exoneration are that a conviction goes away, either because the charges are dismissed or an acquittal at a retrial, and there's evidence that was not available at the first trial that is favorable to the defendant.