Netflix’s The Innocence Files episode 8 focuses on the flimsy case against and wrongful conviction of Alfred Dewayne Brown.
In 2005, Alfred Dewayne Brown was convicted for the shooting death of Houston PD’s Charles Clark. There was one problem, of course: Brown was innocent. Granted, as with most of these cases, some will always challenge proclamations of innocence. However, The Innocence Files (and The Innocence Project) never shies away from exposing how, in far too many cases, authorities will break the law to get their suspect.
The series interviews Brown, his Attorney Brian Stolarz, as well as people like former Harris County Prosecutor Inger Hampton Chandler. Of course, much of the story hinges on the 2003 robbery for which Brown was convicted, during which Clark and a sales clerk named Alfredia Jones were both killed. As an additional tragic detail, Clark was actually very close to retirement at the time of death.
The Innocence Files reveals the lack of evidence
Whether it’s The Innocence Files or Starz’s Wrong Man, it’s often startling how little evidence is required to win a conviction. Also, even though not every case involves underlying racial overtones, some of them certainly do.
In this case, it’s likely that, because Alfred Dewayne Brown knew some kids with a criminal history, there was some “guilt by association” going on.
We also learn that Prosecutor Dan Rizzo likely withheld exculpatory evidence — although Rizzo has not been held accountable and, in fact, Brown has not received compensation for his wrongful imprisonment, even though he’s now a free man and a truck driver. In fact, the case against Alfred Dewayne Brown was very weak, with no DNA, fingerprint, or gunshot residue evidence linking him to the crime. It was all about testimony, and it appears that was most certainly coerced.
Who was guilty?
The Innocence Files has never suggested race as the sole reason for defending a client. In fact, the guilt of Elijah Joubert and Dashan Glaspie is not called into question in this very episode. The series indicates that Glaspie’s gun was used in the crime, and Joubert was convicted for the murder of Alfredia Jones. They are primarily concerned with what their name suggests; Is this person actually guilty and, if not, why are they still in prison?
Joubert and Glaspie initially blamed each other, but then shifted the blame to Dewayne, who was revealed to have likely been at home at the time of the crime (we’ll discuss that suppressed evidence later)! As the story unfolds, we learn that Dewayne had rejected a 40-year sentence, as a way to declare his innocence. It really emphasizes the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” nature of plea agreements.
We also learn about Dewayne’s girlfriend at the time, Ericka Dockery-Lockett, and why she came to testify against her boyfriend. This, too, is part of a story that should be familiar to those who read about wrongful convictions.
The story becomes pretty disturbing, as we learned that Ericka was threatened and badgered into changing her story. The Innocence Files suggests that Rizzo threatened to take her kids away and to treat her as a co-defendant if she didn’t change her story and testify against Alfred Dewayne Brown.
If that’s not enough, a police officer named James Koteras was put in charge of the Grand Jury — leading to a potentially biased outcome, because one of the victims in the robbery was obviously a police officer. It’s also stated that the Judges in Texas tended to use a “pick-a-pal” system (or what might be called a “good ol’ boy” network).
Ericka Dockery-Lockett was specifically threatened with a 30-year perjury sentence, and she had already spent time in jail on flimsy grounds. She was released after changing her story, though they still had an ankle monitor and a curfew imposed on her. Additionally, she had to coordinate with a homicide detective once a week! With this kind of treatment and threats to take away her kids, it’s no wonder why she might change her initial story and lie about Dewayne on the stand.
The case against Dewayne unravels
Juror Anne Marie O’Donnell suggests the jury didn’t work hard enough for the case. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and a Juror’s recent words wouldn’t be enough to change the story around singlehandedly. Much of that began when Brian Stolarz took on the case in 2007.
That’s when more pieces started completing the puzzle, with Elijah Joubert writing an affidavit that Dewayne wasn’t there for the robbery. While an affidavit alone doesn’t represent substantial evidence, either, let’s not forget Joubert’s word was actually a centerpiece in the case against Alfred Dewayne Brown.
So what about Ericka Dockery-Lockett’s claims against Dewayne Brown? Well, it turns out there was evidence that he actually was at her place at the time of the crime. It seems Prosecutor Dan Rizzo didn’t follow the landline subpoena regarding Ericka’s phone records, which phone expert Breck McDaniel later found in his garage! The Innocence Files suggests that this all constitutes a Brady Law violation for suppressing exculpatory evidence from the case.
In June of 2015, under the helm of new DA Devon Anderson, a decision was reached to release Alfred Dewayne Brown. The series maintains that Rizzo knew about the phone record and intentionally hid it, just to solidify a guilty verdict. Not only has Rizzo not been held accountable, but the state of Texas refused to compensate Alfred Dewayne Brown.
As Special Prosecutor John Raley tells us: “It does not do justice to officer Clark to convict the wrong person.” In addition to probable prosecutorial misconduct, it’s obvious that Ericka Dockery-Lockett was treated like a criminal just for knowing Dewayne — an extra layer of disgrace, just in case there wasn’t enough already.
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