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Paul Garza

Other Harris County Drug Exonerations
On February 23, 2009, police in Houston, Texas, arrested 40-year-old Paul Garza after a substance they seized from him field-tested positive for cocaine.

On February 24, 2009, Garza pled guilty in Harris County Criminal District Court to possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 30 days in the Harris County Jail.

On June 9, 2010, the Houston police crime laboratory tested the substance and no cocaine was found.

In 2014, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office discovered that although the results of laboratory tests in controlled substances 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 narcotics, but whose lab tests were negative.

Among those reports was the lab test result in Garza’s case. That report had gone unnoticed by the defense and prosecution at the time.

In 2017, a defense attorney for Garza filed a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The prosecution supported the petition and in December 2017, a judge recommended that the petition be granted.

On April 11, 2018, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated Garza’s conviction. On May 29, 2018, the prosecution dismissed the charge.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/30/2018
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2009
Sentence:30 days
Age at the date of reported crime:40
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No