HOUSTON - Last Friday Harris County D.A. Devon Anderson lashed out at Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman’s office saying she was unsatisfied with conflicting and inconsistent reports about the number of pieces of evidence that was erroneously destroyed.
Anderson says as many as 21 thousand 500 pieces of evidence may be missing while Constable Herman’s numbers are much lower.
“There was a total of 77 hundred and 61 items destroyed,” Herman said. “Out of that we were able to identify 861 items that were traced back to 470 open cases.”
So far the destroyed evidence has led to the dismissal of 142 cases.
Another one thousand cases are in limbo and an additional 600 defendants who were convicted or took plea deals could be freed.
While the D.A. and Precinct 4 point fingers at each other the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association is demanding that both offices be investigated by outside agencies like the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“It’s not every day that we go around asking for police agencies to lose their certification and not be law enforcement officers anymore so this is a very rare occurrence, very serious situation,” said association president Tyler Flood.
In addition to asking that Precinct 4 lose its law enforcement credentials the association wants Devon Anderson investigated for failing to alert the defense bar about the destroyed evidence.
Devon Anderson claims to have known about this since January,” Flood said. “None of the prosecutors in court handling these cases taking these plea deals everyday she claims they were not made aware of this which is even more troubling.”
The Constable says he welcomes an investigation into his evidence room by any agency.
So far we’ve heard nothing back on our request for a response from Anderson.
Herman maintains the destroyed evidence was all the work of one employee he has fired but he says he doesn’t know what motivated that deputy to destroy needed evidence.