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HOUSTON (AP) — A former Houston police officer who has been charged in connection with a deadly 2019 drug raid that left two people dead is facing accusations that he provided false testimony that led to the wrongful conviction of a man in another case from 2008.
Attorneys for 64-year-old Otis Mallet allege Gerald Goines lied in trial testimony about buying crack cocaine from their client in April 2008 and failed to disclose evidence that would have been beneficial to Mallet’s case. Mallet was sentenced to eight years in prison and later paroled.
Mallet has long maintained his innocence.
“Otis has been fighting this case since 2008. It’s fair to say that I think he’s pretty tired of being put through all this kind of stuff. But hopefully we’ll be done with this soon enough,” Jonathan Landers, one of Mallet’s attorneys, said following a court hearing Thursday on Mallet’s efforts to be declared innocent of the drug charges.
Landers had requested that Goines testify during the hearing. Goines, 55, appeared in court but soon was dismissed after his attorney, Nicole DeBorde, told a judge her client would be asserting his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.
“We will not be having him testify on any matters while there is an investigation pending by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office,” DeBorde said. “These lawyers can make any claims that they want, no matter how outrageous they want them to be. He still can’t answer any questions about those claims.”
In a petition before state District Judge Ramona Franklin, Mallet’s attorneys allege Goines’ expense reports, which were not made available to the defense at trial, show he lied about using police funds to buy drugs from Mallet. The expense reports also show Goines said he paid an informant for information leading to Mallet’s arrest, something which he didn’t reveal at trial or tell prosecutors about, according to the petition.
In an affidavit, Jamie Burro, the prosecutor in Mallet’s case, said had she known about the information in Goines’ expense reports, she would have asked that the case be dismissed.
The accusations by Mallet 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, who was shot in a gunfight during the raid, later acknowledged there was no informant and that he had bought the drugs himself, they allege.
Since the raid, prosecutors have been reviewing about 14,000 cases handled by the Houston Police Department's narcotics division, including at least more than 2,000 tied to Goines and another ex-officer, Steven Bryant.
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.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said her office agrees with Mallet’s attorneys that Goines lied during Mallet’s trial and failed to provide evidence in the case.
“What we’re really concerned about is that an innocent person spent time behind bars,” Ogg said. “It’s our job to get the right guy and to make sure the evidence we have is authentic and truthful.”
But Ogg said she wasn’t yet prepared to declare Mallet innocent.
During Thursday’s court hearing, prosecutor Josh Reiss asked Franklin for more time to investigate.
The judge gave prosecutors until Feb. 3 to finish their investigation.
If Franklin accepts the findings, she would then forward to case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which would make the final ruling on whether to declare Mallet innocent.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70
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