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Christopher Dixon

Other Harris County, Texas Drug Exonerations
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On August 13, 2005, police in Houston, Texas arrested 31-year-old Christopher Dixon after seizing a substance from him that field-tested positive for the presence of cocaine.

On November 14, 2005, Dixon pled guilty in Harris County Criminal District Court to possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail.

In 2014, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office discovered that although the results of laboratory tests in controlled substance cases were being sent to the office, the reports in cases that had already been resolved were not being forwarded or distributed to the specific prosecutors in the cases.

After the reports were discovered, the District Attorney’s conviction integrity unit began notifying defense attorneys and attempting to locate defendants who had pled guilty to possession of drugs, but whose lab tests were negative for the presence of drugs.

Among those reports was the lab test result in Dixon’s case. A review of the prosecution file for Dixon’s case revealed a police report indicating that the Houston Police crime laboratory had tested the substance seized from Dixon on October 25, 2005—about three weeks before he pled guilty—and no controlled substance was detected.

On the front of the file, the box for crime lab was checked off, indicating that the prosecutor was aware that the lab report had been sent, although the actual report was not found in the file. The file did not indicate when the lab results were received or made part of the file. The file also did not indicate whether anyone from the prosecution actually reviewed the lab results.

Steven Greenlee, Dixon’s attorney at the time of the guilty plea, had no memory of the case and no records. He provided a sworn affidavit saying that he would not have allowed Dixon to plead guilty if he had known that the crime lab found no controlled substances present.

In a sworn statement included with the writ, Dixon said that at the time of his arrest, he was a student at Remington College. He said he was staying at a motel and had a bar of soap in his pocket. Dixon said police asked for his wallet, performed a field test on it and claimed that it had tested positive for cocaine.

Dixon said in the affidavit, “I do remember that my lawyer told me the lab report came back positive for cocaine. I was never shown the lab report.” He added that the only reason he pled guilty was because he believed the police had framed him and that he could not be acquitted at a trial.

The Harris County Public Defender’s office filed a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking to vacate Dixon’s conviction. The prosecution supported the petition, which stated, “It is uncertain where the breakdown in communication and/or investigation occurred, but the record indicates that Dixon was not adequately informed of the lab result.”On July 26, 2017, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated Dixon’s conviction. On August 25, 2017, the prosecution dismissed the case.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 9/18/2017
State:Texas
County:Harris
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2005
Convicted:2005
Exonerated:2017
Sentence:180 days
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:31
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No