After a decade on death row in Texas, Alfred Dewayne Brown was freed on June 8 when prosecutors dismissed the charges against him.
Alfred Brown was sentenced to death in 2005 for the murders of a Houston police officer and a store clerk during a three-man robbery of an ACE check-cashing store in 2003.
Late last year, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Mr. Brown’s conviction and death sentence because the Harris County District Attorney’s Office withheld key evidence that supports Mr. Brown’s alibi.
Mr. Brown said that he was alone at his girlfriend’s apartment at the time of the murder, and that he had called her after seeing reports of the shooting on television. Defense lawyers argued at trial that the time of the phone call established that Mr. Brown could not have been at the store when the murder occurred, but jurors never saw the phone record because the State did not turn it over.
When the record surfaced in 2013, the district attorney’s office said it had been inadvertently misplaced and sent it to Mr. Brown’s attorneys. The district attorney’s office later agreed it should have been disclosed before trial and conceded that Mr. Brown is entitled to a new trial.
On June 8, District Attorney Devon Anderson said she was dismissing the case because prosecutors do not have enough evidence to retry Mr. Brown. “After very careful consideration, I have decided that at this time, there is insufficient evidence to corroborate the testimony of Brown’s co-defendant,” she told reporters. “Accordingly, we dismissed Alfred Brown’s capital murder case earlier today. It is the right thing to do.”
No physical evidence tied Mr. Brown to the crime. Mr. Brown’s girlfriend was aggressively interrogated and threatened with perjury by the grand jury foreman, who was a police officer, and she was jailed for seven weeks until she changed her testimony to implicate Mr. Brown. She has since recanted that testimony.
Mr. Brown’s attorneys have uncovered compelling evidence that the murder was committed by another man with a history of robbery and connections to the co-defendants in the crime. They filed a motion in 2008 to test the alternate suspect’s DNA, but no test has been carried out.
Alfred Brown is the 154th person exonerated from death row since 1973, the 13th in Texas, and the fourth so far this year. His exoneration follows the April 3 exoneration and release of Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 30 years on Alabama’s death row for crimes he did not commit.