George Powell III- Texas- Convicted in 2009 Nov 1, 2017 1:40:53 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Nov 1, 2017 1:40:53 GMT -5
George Powell is my Innocence Project case of the month for the month of November 2017. (his case being handled by the Texas Innocence Project) He was convicted of committing a string of armed robberies in Bell County, Texas in the year 2008. However, what the defense says is junk science and questionable witness testimony has Powell fighting for his freedom after spending 10 years in prison.
Below is a recent article, with some updates since then:
ELTON — A witness said Wednesday she told prosecutors and police officers in 2008 that two passersby reported to her the man who robbed the convenience store where she worked was sitting in a car in the parking lot after the incident.
Attorneys for George Powell III showed Wednesday that the witness, Melissa Keen, gave information Tuesday that was never written in any statements and wasn’t mentioned during the 2009 trial that convicted Powell.
Powell was sentenced to 28 years in prison in connection with several armed robberies in Bell and Coryell counties, and he’s already served 10 years while maintaining his innocence.
His attorneys, Innocence Project of Texas Executive Director Michael Ware and Walter Reaves, questioned the validity of Keen’s testimony in the Bell County 27th District Court with Judge John Gauntt officiating.
Keen, a clerk at a Killeen convenience store that Powell was convicted of robbing in 2008, said Tuesday that two customers came into the store after it was robbed and told her the man who did it was sitting in the parking lot in a white Cadillac.
That information was not mentioned in any affidavits by Keen or Killeen Police officers, and Keen never said anything about it in during the trial, Ware pointed out Wednesday.
Keen’s explanation was that she told the first officer who questioned her, but no one asked her about it during the trial. She said she also told the Bell County District Attorney’s Office.
The height issue came into play again Wednesday, as it has each day of testimony since the Innocence Project hearings began in Bell County. Most of the descriptions of the robbery suspect estimated the robber’s height ranged from 5 feet, 5 inches to 5 feet, 10 inches.
Powell is 6 feet, 3 inches tall.
Bell County’s conviction of Powell and the recent assertions of Assistant District Attorney Sean Proctor centered on surveillance videos from some of the robberies. Proctor questioned Carl Ortiz, a Killeen Police investigator at that time who was assigned to the robbery cases.
Powell’s attorneys asked for Gauntt’s ruling on two filed motions.
The first motion requested bringing in an expert witness for live testimony. Grant Fredericks, who taught video analysis at the FBI National Academy, disputed the height estimate given in 2009 by the district attorney’s expert witness, Michael Knox. Knox was a former Florida police officer.
Fredericks said that the robber was between 5 feet, 5.8 inches and 5 feet, 9.4 inches.
The second motion sought to require Proctor to bring in Knox, who already revised his original measurement of at least 6 feet, 1 inch. Knox later said the robber was at least 5 feet, 10.4 inches.
Gauntt ruled that he will allow Fredericks to testify Nov. 9. However, Gauntt took the first motion under advisement and will let the attorneys know his decision, he said.
In a surprise move, Ware requested that Gauntt allow them to take Powell to both Bell County robbery locations and film him going through the door, which would allow them to compare Powell’s height with that of the man shown entering the businesses in 2009.
Gauntt didn’t consider the request since it was not in the form of a motion.
Reaves said it is likely the request will be put in a motion that will be sent to Gauntt for his consideration.
The next court date for the Powell hearing is set at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 16.
Gauntt’s decision will be to rule if Powell is entitled to relief. His recommendation for relief would go to the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals, which would decide whether to overturn Powell’s conviction.
And now a couple of more notes-
-The Texas Forensic Science Commission is the official commission that ruled the robber seen on surveillance could be no taller than 5'9" and contradicted the Florida officer: www.ksat.com/news/prisoner-hopes-texas-junk-science-law-can-set-him-free
-A witness told police officers and prosecutors that two passerby reported the man who robbed the convenience store was a man sitting in a white Cadillac in front of it. This information was never mentioned in the affidavits by the witness or police officers or mentioned during trial: www.tdtnews.com/news/article_292e0202-a985-11e7-a152-cbdf72fbe2d2.html
-In addition, the "star witness" who testified against Powell was Demetric Smith, who according to the same article I link to above:
"Smith testified at a 2009 trial that Powell admitted to him in the Bell County Jail that he’d committed robberies. However, in April 2016, Smith wrote a statement he sent to Bell County District Attorney Garza that said he’d committed perjury by lying during Powell’s trial.
Smith later said he’d taken a plea bargain for testifying against Powell, which was partially confirmed through the testimony of Assistant District Attorney Michael Waldman. Waldman said Smith was offered consideration for his cooperation but no upfront deal."
Additional relevant link:
Thoughts? I know I've said this section of this forum is meant to be a discussion section and as the admin/moderator me posting a case doesn't necessarily mean I think the person is innocent but that I found it an interesting case to discuss- but I look at this case, and say to myself, based on what I've read, there is no way I can say I think Powell is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And that's the key in these cases- is not necessarily whether you personally think the person probably did it or not- but whether you think the prosecution proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
I look at the Texas Forensic Science Commission's report- saying the robber couldn't be taller than 5'9" while Powell is 6'3", the convenience store worker, although picking Powell out of a photo lineup, going back and forth on her description of the height and the two passerby mentioning the man in the White Cadillac (not to mention we've discussed here eyewitness mistaken identification, often as a result of not remembering well enough due to trauma as one of the most common causes of wrongful convictions), and the star witness, an admitted criminal himself, saying he lied, and while I don't know what the jury saw back in 2009, I don't know how anyone can't have doubts in 2017.
I also found a Facebook page about George Powell's case while researching this case: