On July 12, 2012, 44-year-old Rhonda Gainus returned to the home of a friend where she was staying in Ellis County, Texas, with her daughter and discovered that police had arrested 3 other people who lived in the home and confiscated a substance that field-tested positive for the presence of cocaine.
When Gainus asked to go inside to check on her daughter, she was arrested as well and charged with possession of narcotics with intent to deliver.
In December 2012, before the crime laboratory had tested the suspected drug, but after Gainus was told she faced as much at 15 years in priosn, she agreed to plead guilty in Ellis County Criminal District Court to a reduced charge of drug possession in return for a prison sentence of three years.
In 2013, the laboratory tests came back negative for all drugs. The charges against the other three defendants, which were still pending, were dismissed.
A state petition for a writ of habeas corpus was granted by the trial court. On May 8, 2013, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a formal decision finding Gainus innocent.
The case was dismissed and Gainus was released. She subsequently received $66,067 in state compensation.
– Maurice Possley