Texas Attorneys

So Ready To Convict for A Win on The Innocent

By Jay Goodman

The last fifteen years of my incarceration has been an eye-opening experience for me. I must admit that if I hadn’t seen personally everything I’ve written about, I would have found it hard to believe. I still, after all of these years find things hard to believe that I see happening inside these Texas prisons. When I look at the people that I’ve met through the years I can see the hurt, sorrow, frustration, anger, and sadness in their eyes. No one can lose years of their lives or decades and not feel the loss inside their hearts and souls. For people who don’t understand what prison does to a man, it steals the very essence of who they are. I see the struggles of everyone around me, and sometimes I can feel their pain and suffering. I have gone to the law library for damn near my entire time of incarceration, and read story after story about the men and women who have come to prison for decades that were innocent. I have written chapters on death row, and on why I dislike the death penalty. Most people in Texas are oblivious to the court system and its many flaws. I cannot help but shake my head at times at ell the injustice I’ve witnessed and have written about through the years. Which brings me to my story.

Another innocent was released from prison after serving ten years of his life sentence for murder. Not only did the Houston authorities say they would, “Begin the process to exonerate”, Lydell Grant 42, of a fatal stabbing in 2010. Investigators now believe was committed by someone else. What are the odds of that happening? Grant was freed on bond a few months ago after a new analysis of DNA found under the victim’s fingernails pointed to his innocence. Grant was accused of killing Aaron Scheerhoorn. Later it came out through an investigation that Jermarico Carter was the killer. Detectives learned Carter had been near the club where Scheerhoorn sought help after being stabbed. Police say Scheerhoorn was turned away from the club and witnesses, “at the time”, told investigators they saw Grant stab him several more times, before fleeing. Grant was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to life.

Can anyone begin to imagine being arrested for a murder that you knew absolutely nothing about? Imagine for a moment how upset and scared you would be. Now imagine the homicide detectives screaming at you, threatening you with the death penalty, showing you pictures of the man that was brutally murdered. Now imagine them charging you with murder, taking you to one of the hardest county jails in our state, and the next morning you are taken in front of a judge who refuses you bail, because of the brutallness of your charge, and the DA believes you’re a flight risk’. Now imagine going to trial and being sentenced to prison for life. Can anyone reading this imagine the way these innocent people must feel realizing that they may never leave prison? It is a scary thought isn’t it? Well, it happens al1 of the time. Anyway, after the police tracked down Carter in Georgia, he admitted to killing Scheerhoorn. Mike Ware who is the executive director of the Innocence Project of Texas and one of Grant’s attorneys stated, “We are relieved that Lydell’s wrongful conviction has had this important breakthrough. We look forward to his full exoneration at the court of criminal appeals.”

Well, you better get some binoculars. I just finished a chapter on a man named Richard Bryan Kussmaul, out of Waco, Texas, who was released after 26 years in prison. He was found to be innocent through DNA. If Kussmaul didn’t receive a full exoneration from the Court of Criminal Appeals, I don’t expect Lydell Grant to get one. Of course, the problem with Kussmaul, was that the McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara refuses to search for anyone else. And the Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg stated, “Grant has been eliminated as a suspect.” Where the McLennan County District Attorney’s office stated, “The age of the case and the compelling DNA evidence made a successful prosecution unlikely.” If the McLennan District Attorney was smart, which he’s not, he would have entered the new DNA evidence into the national registry and. wait for a hit. You see, a sexual Murderer that raped then shot that 17-year-old girl and then the 14-year-old boy, will strike again. The sad thing is he has more than likely been doing it all these years, that is if he hasn’t already been caught in another state. It’s easier to turn a tiger into a house cat, than to stop someone like that.

Let’s look at how TDCJ gets our DNA. When you come to prison, they automatically take two vials of blood and send it off for testing, to be entered into the DNA National Registry Databank. Why? To see if you’re wanted in connection with any other crimes. So, why hasn’t the McLennan County District Attorney and the Sheriff, done,this in Kussmaul’s case? Don’t ask me why, ask them why? Remember the “Golden State Killer”, who was wanted, for 12 murders and 50 rapes? Turned out to be a former Sacramento area police officer named, Joseph James DeAngelo, who’s assaults were often marked by extreme and often sadistic violence and sexual assaults that preceded armed robberies. Why do I bring this up? Simple, because we have the technology now to find the guilty, and redeem the innocent. But do we use it? No. Why? It’s called “Ego”. Instead of admitting that you’re wrong, our state prosecutors will fight tooth and nail to keep their “Win”.

While a new report from the National Registry of Exonerations Report: 60 percent of exonerations stem from official misconduct. Just like in the case of Richard Bryan Kussmaul and Lydell Grant, a very simple test called, DNA, would have saved both of these men decades in prison. These two men together have a combined 36 years in prison. So once again, I have to ask this question. How many people has the great state of Texas executed that were innocent? my God, the numbers have to be unbelievable. And the sad thing is Texas officials know this, but they keep right on executing people. And of course, they execute more people than any other state. Brande Garrett, a law professor at the University of Virginia, told NBC News. “It’s remarkable how much official misconduct plays a role in these exonerations, and it’s remarkable when it comes to light, because it tends to stay concealed.” Sources  www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/documents/Exonerations 2017. pdf,www.law.umich.edu/special/ exoneration/pages/about.aspx.,httpi/innocent.org.www.law.msu.edu/ faculty-staff/profile.php.prof-492t.

The prosecutor’s goal, “Is not that it shall win a case. But that justice shall be done.” The U.S. Supreme Court declared in Berger V. United States 295 U.S. 78(1935) over the last 25 years, more than 2,150 prisoners have been proven innocent. Some prosecutors, however, are clearly not adhering to this standard of justice. They instead believe their job is to win at any cost. Because of this type of thinking men and women have been sent to prison for years, if not decades that are completely innocent. And I not only promise you, but I also challenge everyone reading this, if you will go back into say 20 of the 2,150 prisoners who were proven innocent, you’ll find that there was misconduct by the prosecutors That sent these people to prison in the first place.

According to data collected by the Innocence Project, 356 people have been exonerated by DNA evidence since 1989. Of those cases, 152 actual perpetrators were identified, and they were free to commit “150 additional violent crimes”, which included rapes and murders. After Michael Morton was wrongfully convicted in a Texas court of murdering his wife in 1997, DNA evidence later showed Mark Alan Norwood, not Morton, was the true killer. Prosecutors in the case had illegally withheld exculpatory evidence, and Norwood went on to rape and kill another woman in the same fashion. Ken Anderson, the lead prosecutor who withheld the crucial evidence, later became a District Court Judge after Morton’s conviction. Judge Anderson was then criminally charged and pleaded guilty to felony criminal contempt. He was disbarred and no longer able to serve as a lawyer or a judge.

How many other lives were destroyed by Ken Anderson’s actions? How many, we’ll never know about? Now, I want to point something else out that’s important. How many men and women were put to death because of people like Ken Anderson?

I want to end this chapter with something I read many years ago. When God was creating the universe some of the angels were discussing where they each felt God should hide the truth. One angel said, “I think God should hide the truth at the very summit of the highest mountain.” The next proclaimed, “I think God should hide the truth at the very depths of the ocean.” Another said, “No, I think God should hide the truth on the furthest star.” God heard the angels and spoke up saying, “I will not hide the truth in none of these places. I will hide the truth at the very depths of every man and every woman’s heart. This way, those who search humbly and sincerely, will find it very easily, and those that do not, will have to search the whole universe before they do.”

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez