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Damian McGinnis

Summary of Goines Cases in Groups Registry
On October 23, 2013, Officer Gerald Goines of the Houston Police Department in Texas arrested 24-year-old Damian McGinnis and charged him with delivery of a controlled substance. In court papers, Goines said that McGinnis had sold him less than a gram of cocaine.

Two days later, McGinnis pled guilty to the charge in Harris County Criminal District Court and was sentenced to seven months in state jail.

On January 28, 2019, Goines led a raid on a home belonging to 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle and his 58-year-old wife, Rhogena Nicholas. Goines obtained a no-knock warrant after telling a judge that he had set up a controlled buy of narcotics there using a confidential informant. Goines, his partner, Steven Bryant, and other officers broke down the front door of the home and shot a dog that they said lunged at them, which prompted a gun fight. Tuttle and Nicholas were killed.

The Houston Police Department opened an investigation. When Goines’s informant could not be found, Goines eventually admitted there wasn’t an informant.

In April 2019, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office dismissed several dozen pending cases involving Goines and Bryant and began reviewing more than 2,200 cases the two officers handled throughout their careers.

In August 2019, Goines was charged with felony murder, and Bryant was charged with tampering with a government record after the raid. By then, Goines and Bryant had retired. Goines was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2019 on charges that he deprived Tuttle and Nicholas of their civil rights by killing them.

In February 2020, Houston District Attorney Kim Ogg said that a review by her office’s conviction-integrity unit (CIU) of cases Goines played a substantial role in between 2008 and 2019, found 69 people, including McGinnis, who might have been convicted on false evidence presented by Goines.

McGinnis, represented by the Harris County Public Defender’s Office, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on August 9, 2023. The petition said his plea was involuntary and that the state used false evidence to induce that plea.

In the petition, McGinnis described the hardship he had endured and said he had not possessed any drugs at the time of his arrest. “Because of this case,” he said, “I cannot get any steady work. People judge me by this conviction, and don’t give me a chance. While I was in prison, I lost family members, and that was really hard. I lost everything I had worked for up to that point. It put me back at ground zero.”

The district attorney’s office joined with McGinnis in recommending that his habeas petition be granted.

On August 30, 2023, a judge in Harris County Criminal District Court accepted the joint recommendation and referred the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

The appellate court granted McGinnis’s petition and vacated his conviction on October 4, 2023. The state dismissed McGinnis’s charge on November 3, 2023.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 1/9/2024
Last Updated: 1/9/2024
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2013
Sentence:7 months
Age at the date of reported crime:24
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No