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Michael Gastile

Summary of Goines Cases in Groups Registry
https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/PublishingImages/harris%20county.png
On April 2, 2014, Officer Gerald Goines of the Houston Police Department in Texas arrested 55-year-old Michael Gastile and charged him with delivery of a controlled substance. In court papers, Goines said that Gastile had sold him less than a gram of cocaine.

Gastile pled guilty to the charge in Harris County Criminal District Court on June 10, 2014, and was sentenced to 180 days in state jail, He was released on September 29, 2014.

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.

The Conviction Integrity Unit of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office conducted a review of cases between 2009 and 2019 where Goines was a principal player in the arrest. In February 2020, District Attorney Kim Ogg said that the review found 69 defendants who might have been convicted on false evidence presented by Goines. Her office then notified these persons.

Gastile, represented by the Harris County Public Defender’s Office, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on December 29, 2023. The petition said his plea was involuntary and that the state used false evidence obtained by Goines to induce that plea.

In the petition, Gastile said he did not possess any drugs and that he pled guilty after the prosecutor offered him a deal. “If I could somehow have shown that he was doing this to other people too, I would have insisted on a trial,” Gastile said.

The district attorney’s office joined with Gastile in recommending that his habeas petition be granted. On February 1, 2024, 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 Gastile’s petition and vacated his conviction on March 27, 2024. The state dismissed Gastile’s charge on April 23, 2024.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 5/14/2024
Last Updated: 5/14/2024
State:Texas
County:Harris
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2014
Convicted:2014
Exonerated:2024
Sentence:6 months
Race/Ethnicity:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:55
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No