On May 7, 2011, Houston police stopped 19-year-old Jerrell Bell on the street and found .03 grams of a white powder. After a presumptive field test was positive for cocaine, Bell was charged with possession of a controlled substance.
Two days later, Bell, who had a prior conviction for drug possession, pled guilty in Harris County District Court. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail.
In January 2012, three months after Bell completed his sentence, the Houston Police Department crime laboratory tested the substance confiscated from Bell and determined that it was not cocaine or any other drug.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office notified the judge and Bell’s attorney, who filed a state petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In November 2013, a judge recommended the petition be granted and in December 2013, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the petition and vacated Bell’s conviction.
On February 4, 2014, the prosecution dismissed the case.
– Maurice Possley