AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Houston-area prosecutors on Monday dropped charges against Alfred Brown, a man whose murder conviction and death sentence were overturned last year after a court determined evidence that was beneficial to his case has been wrongfully withheld.
Brown, 33, has been behind bars for 10 years after being convicted with two co-defendants of killing Houston police officer Charles Clark and store clerk Alfredia Jones in a 2003 robbery at a check cashing business.
“After very careful consideration, I have decided that at this time, there is insufficient evidence to corroborate the testimony of Brown’s co-defendant,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.
“Accordingly, we dismissed Alfred Brown’s capital murder case earlier today. It is the right thing to do.”
The move will soon lead to Brown’s release from Harris County Jail. Brown has maintained his innocence and said he was with his girlfriend at the time of the crime.
He has been held at the jail since the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled last year that phone records corroborating his alibi and found by investigators were not turned over to his defense attorneys, as they should have been.
The appeals court decision allowed for a new trial, which will not happen now that charges have been dropped.
His case was highlighted in a series articles about corruption and abuse in the Texas grand jury system from Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg that earned her a Pulitzer Prize this year.
In her series, Falkenberg said there was no physical evidence that linked Brown to the case and nearly every witness who identified him later recanted their testimony.
“In 2013, during the appeals process, the District Attorney’s Office discovered a phone record that had not been disclosed to the defense. The non-disclosure was inadvertent,” the office said in a statement.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Eric Beech