HOUSTON - A man sent to prison nine years ago could soon be proclaimed innocent. A Harris County judge announced Monday she’ll recommend Otis Mallet’s innocence to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
His case involved an alleged drug bust led by former Houston Police Officer Gerald Goines—the same officer now charged with murder.
Just like on Harding Street last year, District Attorney Kim Ogg now says she believes the man Goines targeted for arrest in this case—Otis Mallet—was completely innocent, and on Monday the judge agreed.
“Today was an extraordinarily significant day in Harris County,” said Ogg.
Twelve years after Mallet was labeled a criminal by police, and 9 years after he was placed in prison—found guilty of possession with intent to deliver cocaine—Judge Ramona Franklin announced she is recommending his actual innocence to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, approving the opinion of the DA’s Office and the defense team—all sides now agreeing he was innocent and wrongly convicted.
“The State of Texas joined with the defense to ask our highest court for Mr. Mallet’s relief,” said Ogg. “To say that it’s rare when the defense and the prosecution join together is an understatement.”
The move to reverse Mallet’s conviction comes after the announcement of the review of 14,000 cases handled by former Houston Police Officer Gerald Goines who is now charged with the murders of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas on Harding Street in January, 2019. He’s accused of framing them as drug dealers, and now prosecutors say he did the same thing to Otis Mallet back in 2008, which led to an eight-year prison sentence for Mallet.
“It’s a shame that it took death—somebody else’s life—for justice to come to him and his family,” said LJ Comeaux, Mallet’s pastor at Fiesta Missionary Baptist Church.
He says Mallet recently became a deacon at the church in Houston’s Third Ward. Mallet has been out on parole since 2013.
“I don’t think a man ought to be put before the world and see how horrible people can make him look when he’s not what they see,” said Comeaux. “He is a good man—a good person.”
According to court documents, Goines was the only witness to testify that Mallet was involved in a drug transaction, and several witnesses testified against Goines and in favor of Mallet’s innocence, yet he was still convicted and sent to prison.
“It’s clear that the prosecutor was lied to and that critical evidence was not turned over to her back as early as 2008,” said Ogg.
“Officer Goines is a victim of Satan,” said Comeaux.
Prosecutors say it will likely be a few months before they hear whether the high court accepts the recommendation of actual innocence for Otis Mallet. Not only would his conviction be reversed, but he’d be financially compensated for the years spent in prison.