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Cedric Woods

Other Harris County Drug Exonerations
On June 6, 2007, police in Houston, Texas, arrested 38-year-old Cedric Woods and charged him with possession of a controlled substance. Court documents don’t say what led police to Woods, but he was said to possess less than a gram of cocaine.

Woods pled guilty to the charge in Harris County District Court on June 15, 2007, receiving a 90-day jail sentence.

On August 26, 2008, a technician at the Houston Police Department’s Crime Laboratory tested the material said to be found on Woods. The lab told the Harris County District Attorney’s Office three weeks later that the testing did not detect any controlled substances.

Nearly six years later, on July 29, 2014, the district attorney’s office sent a letter to Woods telling him of the results. “This office is notifying you of this information so that you may take action to have this criminal conviction removed,” the letter said.

Woods would later say he did not learn about the test results until he was contacted by the Harris County Public Defender’s Office in February 2023.

An attorney with the public defender’s office filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on June 29, 2023, stating that Woods was innocent and that his plea was involuntary because he was unaware of all the facts.

The petition included an unsworn statement from Woods that described the collateral consequences of the conviction. He said it had harmed his ability to find work and a place to live. The conviction had also been used as a potential punitive enhancement in subsequent criminal cases, and Woods said that he had pled guilty in several cases to avoid that enhancement.

The available records don’t explain the lengthy gap between the test results and the filing of the writ petition.

On August 20, 2023, a judge in Harris County District Court recommended that Woods’s writ be granted and forward his ruling to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The appellate court granted the writ on November 8, 2023.

The state dismissed the case on January 22, 2024. Woods was exonerated in 2023 of a separate drug-possession conviction tied to misconduct by former Houston Police Officer Gerald Goines.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 3/27/2024
Last Updated: 3/27/2024
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2007
Sentence:90 days
Age at the date of reported crime:38
Contributing Factors:
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No