HOUSTON (AP) — Prosecutors said Wednesday they believe a second person who was convicted based on what they allege is false testimony by an ex-Houston police officer whose cases are being reviewed following a 2019 deadly drug raid is actually innocent.
Steven Mallet had pleaded guilty in 2009 to a drug charge and was sentenced to 10 months in jail.
Mallet along with his brother, Otis Mallet, were both arrested in 2008 by Gerald Goines, who had testified he had bought crack cocaine from the siblings. Otis Mallet was sentenced to eight years in prison and later paroled.
Earlier this month, Otis Mallet was declared innocent by a judge after his attorneys and prosecutors agreed that Goines had lied during his trial about buying drugs from the brothers and had failed to provide evidence that would have helped their case.
Bob Wicoff, Steven Mallet’s attorney, said his client was “very happy”and “grateful” about the decision by prosecutors to find him innocent.
“Justice dictates that we continue going through questionable cases and clearing people convicted solely on the word of a police officer we can no longer trust,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. “When the only evidence of criminal culpability is the testimony of an untrustworthy officer, we are going to work as fast as possible to right the situation.”
In an affidavit, Steven Mallet, 61, said the allegations against him were “completely false” and he never met Goines.
“The prosecutor had previously offered me a plea deal if I agreed to say my brother Otis had done what they said, but I refused because it wasn’t true,” Mallet said. “Finally, I pleaded guilty only because I wanted to get out. I had to plead guilty to something that never happened.”
Nicole DeBorde, Goines’ attorney, said she was disappointed by Ogg’s decision to publicize the decision in Steven Mallet’s case and that it was being done to damage her client’s ability to get a fair trial from an unbiased jury.
The accusations by the Mallet brothers are similar to ones made against Goines related to the January 2019 drug raid in which Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58, were killed. Prosecutors allege Goines lied to obtain the warrant to search the couple’s home by claiming that a confidential informant had bought heroin there. Goines later said there was no informant and that he had bought the drugs himself, they allege. Five officers, including Goines, were injured in the raid.
Since the raid, prosecutors have been reviewing about 14,000 cases handled by the Houston Police Department’s narcotics division over the last five years, including at least more than 2,000 tied to Goines and another ex-officer, Steven Bryant.
Ogg said in the wake of the cases involving the Mallet brothers, her office is now reviewing cases going back to 2008.
A court hearing is set for Thursday at which time a judge could accept the district attorney’s findings and declare Steven Mallet innocent.
If that happens, Mallet’s case would join his brother’s at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which would make the final ruling on both cases.
Goines is facing two counts of felony murder in state court for the deaths of the couple and is also facing seven counts in federal court over allegedly providing false information in the raid.
Bryant is also facing state and federal charges in the deadly raid. Both men were relieved of duty after the shooting and later retired.
By JUAN A. LOZANO
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