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Amy Albritton

Other Harris County Drug Cases
On August 3, 2010, police in Houston, Texas pulled over a car driven by Anthony Wilson, who had traveled to Houston from Monroe, Louisiana, for a job interview. The car he was driving belonged to his girlfriend, 43-year-old Amy Albritton, who had come along for the ride.

During a search of the car, police said they found a white crumb on the floor of the vehicle that field-tested positive for cocaine.

Albritton was arrested on a charge of possession of a controlled substance. Two days later, on August 5, 2010, Albritton pled guilty in Harris County Criminal District Court to possession of a controlled substance. She was sentenced to 45 days in jail and was released after serving 21 days.

On February 28, 2011, the Houston police crime laboratory tested the white crumb and no controlled substance was found. A report of the negative finding was sent to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, but was misplaced until July 2014 when the newly-formed conviction integrity unit sent the results to Albritton’s address at the time of the arrest. But Albritton no longer lived there and never received it.

In August 2015, ProPublica reporters Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders were investigating cases in Houston in which positive roadside field tests for narcotics – later proven by lab tests to be misread or inaccurate – had resulted in wrongful convictions. Ultimately, they reported finding 212 cases of wrongful conviction due to these erroneous field tests.

Reporters Gabrielson and Sanders tracked down Albritton and informed her of the negative lab report. She told them she had lost her job and was evicted because of her conviction and incarceration. She then sought to vacate her conviction.

In February 2016, the Harris County District Attorney's conviction integrity unit joined with a defense attorney for Albritton to file a state-law petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In May, 2016, a judge recommended that the petition be granted and in June 2016, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated Albritton’s conviction. On July 20, 2016, the prosecution dismissed the charge.

Two months later, Albritton filed a federal lawsuit seeking compensation. In 2017, the lawsuit was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley
To read the entire ProPublica/New York Times Magazine article:

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Posting Date: 7/22/2016
Last Updated: 7/24/2018
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2010
Sentence:45 days
Age at the date of reported crime:43
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No