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Rachel Scott

Other Houston Drug Exonerations
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On March 21, 2017, Gerald Goines, a police officer in Houston, Texas, arrested Rachel Scott and charged her with drug possession and sale. Goines said that Scott, who was then 32 years old, had sold him less than 1 gram of cocaine.

Scott pled guilty in the 209th District Court of Harris County on April 24, 2017, and was placed on deferred adjudication. On June 26, 2019, she was found to have violated the terms of that status by failing to report to her probation officer and not paying certain court-ordered fees. Scott was placed in the Harris County Jail pending adjudication.

On January 28, 2019, Goines had led a raid on a home belonging to 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle and his 58-year-old wife, Rhogena Nicholas. Goines obtained a no-knock warrant after telling a judge that he had set up a controlled buy of narcotics there using a confidential informant. Goines, his partner, Steven Bryant, and other officers broke down the front door of the home and shot a dog that they said lunged at them, which prompted a gun fight. Tuttle and Nicholas were killed.

The Houston Police Department opened an investigation. When Goines’s informant could not be found, Goines eventually admitted there wasn’t an informant. In April 2019, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office dismissed several dozen pending cases involving Goines and Bryant, and began reviewing more than 2,200 cases the two officers handled throughout their careers. In August 2019, Goines was charged with felony murder and Bryant was charged with tampering with a government record after the raid. By then, Goines and Bryant had retired. Goines was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2019 on charges that he deprived Tuttle and Nicholas of their civil rights by killing them.

In February 2020, Houston District Attorney Kim Ogg said that a review of cases Goines played a substantial role in, between 2008 and 2019, found 69 people who might have been convicted on false evidence presented by Goines.

Scott was one of them. The district attorney’s office asked the court on February 27, 2020 to appoint Scott an attorney to prepare a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

On April 23, 2020, District Court Judge Brian Warren entered an order allowing Scott to withdraw her guilty plea. In his findings of fact, Warren said that Scott had shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the testimony used to convict her was false.

“Goines is the officer who requested applicant to purchase crack cocaine for him,” Warren wrote. “Goines stated she provided him with narcotics, Goines is the officer who identified the applicant, and Goines is the officer who field tested the narcotics.”

The district attorney’s office dismissed Scott’s charge on May 4, 2020.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 9/29/2020
Last Updated: 9/29/2020
State:Texas
County:Harris
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2017
Convicted:2017
Exonerated:2020
Sentence:Probation
Race/Ethnicity:Black
Sex:Female
Age at the date of reported crime:32
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No