A 33-year-old Houston man was released Monday night after spending nearly a decade on death row in Texas for the fatal shooting of a Houston police officer.
Alfred Dewayne Brown was set free after Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson dismissed the capital murder against him.
Brown won a new trial last year after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed that telephone records bolstering his claims of innocence in the death of Houston Officer Charles Clark were withheld from Brown's 2005 trial. The phone records surfaced in 2013 as a homicide investigator was cleaning out his garage.
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The nondisclosure of evidence was "inadvertent," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
"After very careful consideration, I have decided that at this time, there is insufficient evidence to corroborate the testimony of Brown's co-defendant," Anderson said, adding that the decision to drop the charge against Brown "is the right thing to do."
Brown's lawyer, Katherine Scardino, said her client's first order of business would be, "Go home, get reunited with his family and get on with his life."
In 2013, then-District Attorney Mike Anderson, who was married to Devon Anderson and has since died, said a new trial for Brown was warranted and entered into an agreement with Brown's lawyers. Brown's trial judge agreed and sent the recommendations to the appeals court.
Clark was killed in 2003 responding to a robbery at a check-cashing store. A store clerk, Alfredia Jones, 27, also was killed. One of Brown's friends, Elijah Joubert, also is on death row for the slaying.
Brown's lawyers argued their client had learning disabilities and a low IQ, and they unsuccessfully tried to show a third man involved in the robbery actually killed the 45-year-old officer, who died one day short of his 20th anniversary with the department. Defense lawyers contended the third man, Dashan Glaspie, was testifying against Brown to save himself.
Devon Anderson said Monday her decision to drop the capital murder charge was made after prosecutors and Houston homicide detectives re-examined the case as it was headed for retrial.
She said the investigation remained open. There is no statute of limitations for capital murder.
According to court documents, Glaspie was supposed to be the lookout and getaway driver as Brown and Joubert pulled off the robbery at the store, which was a second target. Their first attempt at a robbery was thwarted when a store owner pulled a gun on them and they left.
Evidence showed Joubert approached Jones as she arrived to open the store for the day, and allowed her to make a telephone call to another store that would tell them she was open for business. Instead, she used a code word that alerted the second store to the robbery.
Glaspie and Brown were waiting at a store next door and had joined Joubert when Clark showed up and went inside. According to court documents, Brown then shot Clark and Joubert shot Jones after accusing her of tipping off police. Glaspie testified against both Brown and Joubert as part of a plea agreement.
Scardino said she warned Brown, who expressed to her the hope to "work crawfishing with his cousin in Louisiana," to not discuss the facts of the case with anyone.
Scardino also represented Anthony Graves, who spent nearly half his adult life in prison before he was released in October 2010 after prosecutors determined through DNA testing that he was not involved in the 1992 slayings of six members of a family in Burleson County.
"The first thing I thought (after the charges were dismissed Monday) is how fortunate I was that this happened twice to me and other lawyers didn't even have it happen once," Scardino said.