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Devron Hodges

Other Texas Robbery Cases
On May 10, 2012, Jonathan Conrad told police that he was robbed at knifepoint in Shiner, Texas. Conrad said that 21-year-old Devron Hodges confronted him in an alley and forced him to give up a credit card that Hodges used to buy cigarettes.

The following day, police arrested Hodges on charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping.

Hodges, who had prior arrests for misdemeanor thefts and a conviction for an unrelated robbery, pled guilty in Lavaca County Criminal District Court on January 10, 2013 to a reduced charge of robbery without a weapon. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

A week later, Hodges appeared in Gonzales County, which was part of the 25th Judicial District, which includes four counties, including Lavaca County. Hodges was in court in Gonzales County on a motion to revoke his probation for the prior robbery based on his guilty plea to robbery in Lavaca County. Before his case was called, the assistant district attorney on the case, Kerri Miller, overheard Hodges complaining to another inmate that he had pled to the Lavaca County robbery even though he was innocent because the victim (Conrad) had falsely accused him.

When Hodge’s revocation case was called, he adamantly insisted he was not guilty of the Lavaca County robbery. His probation was revoked after he agreed to admit to other violations, but not the Lavaca County robbery.

Miller recalled that about two weeks earlier, an investigator in the District Attorney’s Office had mentioned that a victim in a Lavaca County robbery case had recanted his testimony prior to the case going to trial. Laird reported what she had heard from Hodges and the investigator to the District Attorney, Heather McMinn, who decided to look into the case. McMinn learned that a week before Hodges was scheduled to go to trial on the Lavaca County robbery charge, Michael Mark, the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the case, had interviewed Conrad along with the investigator, and that Conrad admitted that he had falsely accused Hodges of a crime that did not occur.

McMinn examined the internal case file in Hodges’ robbery case. In the file were two compact disk recording of the statement from Conrad recanting his accusation. The investigator reported that he had made two disks—one for the prosecutor, Mark, and the other for Charles Kvinta, Jr., Hodges’s defense attorney.

McMinn confronted Mark, who claimed he told Kvinta about Conrad’s statement. McMinn contacted Kvinta, who said he had not been informed of Conrad’s recantation and he had not received a copy of any recording of it. In April 2013, McMinn dismissed Mark from the District Attorney’s Office and reported him to the Texas State Bar for failing to disclose the favorable evidence to Kvinta.

By the summer of 2013, Kvinta – who also was the attorney for the city of Yoakum, Texas – had been disbarred after pleading guilty to misappropriating more than $160,000 from a client involved in an oil and gas land deal. Kvinta, who was sentenced to 45 days in jail, wrote a letter to Hodges informing him of Conrad’s statement. Hodges sent a letter to the Lavaca County Clerk’s office requesting that he be appointed a lawyer. District Attorney McMinn also asked the court to appoint a lawyer to represent Hodges.

In September 2013, attorney Susan Schoon was appointed to represent Hodges. Schoon filed a state court petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The writ said that on January 4, 2013—six days before Hodges pled guilty—Conrad gave a recorded statement to Assistant District Attorney Mark and the DA’s investigator at the Shiner Police Department in which he said that he had not been robbed at knifepoint by Hodges.

Conrad said that he wanted to buy a $10 bag of marijuana from Hodges, but he did not have any cash so he offered to trade two packages of cigarettes for the marijuana. Because Conrad had been barred from entering the convenience store nearby because he had been repeatedly caught stealing, Conrad gave Hodges a credit card, which Hodges used to buy the cigarettes.

Conrad said in the statement that he then followed Hodges to his home to get the marijuana. While there, Conrad said he ran other men who attacked him because one of them had a grudge that against Conrad for a prior incident. Conrad said that he then falsely accused Hodges’ of the robbery at knifepoint.

On October 21, 2014, Criminal District Court Judge William D. Old III recommended that Hodges’ petition for a writ of habeas be granted. Old noted that former prosecutor Mark claimed he had disclosed Conrad’s statement to Kvinta, but the judge found that Mark was not credible.

In January 2015, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated Hodges’ conviction. On February 12, 2015, the prosecution dismissed the robbery charge.

After leaving the District Attorney’s Office, Mark worked as a criminal defense lawyer until September 2014, when he was hired as an attorney in the civil litigation unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which oversees Texas state prisons and jails.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/27/2015
State:Texas
County:Lavaca
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2012
Convicted:2013
Exonerated:2015
Sentence:10 years
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:21
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No