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Kevin Harding

Other Harris County Drug Exonerations
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On December 9, 2008, police in Houston, Texas arrested 52-year-old Kevin Harding after they stopped him and he swallowed a substance they suspected was illegal drugs. The officers swabbed his mouth and one of the swabs field-tested positive for the presence of cocaine. The officers sent the swabs to the Houston police crime laboratory for analysis.

On January 21, 2009, Harding pled guilty in Harris County Criminal District Court to possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 10 months in the Harris County Jail.

In 2014, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office discovered that the results of laboratory tests in controlled substance cases were being sent to the Harris County District Attorney’s office, but were not forwarded or distributed to the prosecutors of 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 lab tests were negative for the presence of drugs.

Among those reports was the lab test results in Harding’s case, which revealed that the crime lab tested the untested swab seized from Harding on January 7, 2009—prior to him pleading guilty—and that the swab was negative for the presence of any controlled substance. That report had gone unnoticed by the defense and prosecution at the time.

In November 2016, the District Attorney’s conviction integrity unit joined with Harding’s defense attorney to support a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus requesting that Harding’s conviction be vacated.

In December 2016, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated the conviction. On January 19, 2017, the prosecution dismissed the charge.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 1/25/2017
State:Texas
County:Harris
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2008
Convicted:2009
Exonerated:2017
Sentence:10 months
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:52
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No