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Appeals Court Overturns False Conviction for Attorney Miller’s Client

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By Priscarl Canlas
November 21, 2019

A trial in 2018 failed to take exculpatory evidence into account, leading to a 20-year prison sentence for a Houston man who could not have committed the crime alleged against him. Attorney Mandy Miller, however, secured an overturned conviction and case dismissal in November.

How and Why Was the Defendant Falsely Convicted?

During the 2018 trial, the eyewitness recounted the early morning events on January 25, 2017. After hearing glass break, he looked out the window to see three burglars ransacking the first floor of the neighboring apartment. As the trio carried bags of valuables out of the building, the witness’s wife called 911 at 2:26 a.m. The witness continued to watch the men go in and out of the apartment until they left 10-15 minutes later.

Approximately 20 minutes before the 911 call, a police officer pulled over Attorney Miller’s client and his friends for an illegal U-turn.  Therefore, the men were already detained when the 911 call was made and the witness was observing the burglary.  Despite this, the police brought the men back to the apartment complex to be identified by the witness.

The witness expressed uncertainty about being able to identify anyone because he was not wearing his glass, the lighting was “poor,” and there was condensation on the window.  On the scene, the witness positively identified one of the men because his jeans looked familiar. Despite the witness’s questionable perception, all three detained men were arrested.

Attorney Miller’s client decided to take his case to trial, where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.  After, fearing longer sentences, the two co-defendants agreed to a two and four-year prison term. 

Appealing and Overturning the Conviction

Attorney Miller and her client appealed the 2018 decision. She explained that the 2018 jury never saw the footage from the police officers’ body cameras and dashboard cameras that would have proven her client’s innocence. The refusal to consider exculpatory evidence, as well as the insubstantial eyewitness testimony, led the court to falsely convicting an innocent man. “This is not how the criminal justice system works,” Miller said. “We have rules in place.”

The 14th Court of Appeals overturned the conviction after finding that the procedure used by the police in obtaining the eyewitness identification was faulty.  However, the court also noted that Attorney Miller’s client could not have committed the crime, as he had already been pulled over by police at the time of the burglary. The appeals court ordered a new trial, but a Waller County judge dismissed the case.

While Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis disagreed with the appellate court’s decision, he acknowledged that “it is of paramount importance that persons accused of a crime are also guaranteed their rights to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures and improper evidence gathering by law enforcement agents.”

Attorney Miller’s client was released from prison on November 20.

Are You Facing Penalties for a False Conviction? My Firm Is Here to Help.

At Mandy Miller Legal, PLLC, I am committed to helping convicted Texans seek justice by challenging false verdicts and correcting violations of their rights. With years of experience and successful litigation strategies, I will help you navigate the complexities of the appeals process and give your case the best possible likelihood of a favorable outcome.

I am available 24/7 to better support my clients’ time-sensitive needs. Schedule your free consultation or call my firm at (832) 769-0613 today.

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