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Damien LaFell

Other Harris County, Texas exonertions with no crime
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On January 30, 2009, police in Houston, Texas arrested 28-year-old Damien LaFell after they confiscated a substance from him that was subjected to a field test that was positive for the presence of cocaine.

On February 2, 2009, LaFell pled guilty in Harris County Criminal District Court to possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 180 days in the Harris County Jail.

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 LaFell’s case. That report, which said that the substance seized from LaFell was tested on June 3, 2010 and was negative for any controlled substance, had gone unnoticed by the defense and prosecution at the time.

In 2018, a defense attorney for LaFell filed a state law petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The prosecution supported the petition and in August 2018, a judge recommended that the petition be granted.

On November 20, 2019, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated LaFell’s conviction. On March 30, 2020, the charge was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 4/6/2020
State:Texas
County:Harris
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2009
Convicted:2009
Exonerated:2020
Sentence:6 months
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:28
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No