On May 11, 2012, 37-year-old Michael Bruce Lape was stopped by police in Montgomery County, Texas and charged with drug possession after liquid in a jar found in his car tested positive for methamphetamine in a field drug test.
Before the crime laboratory had tested the liquid found in the car, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office offered a deal to Lape, who faced a possible life sentence as a habitual offender—if he pled guilty, he would get a 25-year prison sentence.
The prosecution told Lape that if he did not accept the offer, the state would ask for a minimum of 40 years if he were convicted at trial.
On September 12, 2012, Lape, who had prior drug possession convictions, pled guilty and was sentenced to 25 years.
In December, the laboratory tests of the liquid came back negative for all drugs. A state petition for a writ of habeas corpus was granted by the trial court and the prosecution dismissed the case. Lape was released from prison in January 2013.
On April 24, 2013, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a formal decision finding Lape innocent.
– Maurice Possley