The Prosecution: Hidden Alibi (2020)
Where's the other bucket at? I just see one.
I see it.
Really, these are the first horses that we actually purchased, and we just kinda fell in love with them.
We ride them every once in a while.
Not that often.
But we just come out here to ride them, just to have a little fun.
He's Lazy Boy. He's the smooth rider.
He takes his time.
He's gentle. This one here is the fastest out of the bunch.
But he's pretty old.
Nobody don't ride him 'cause he's so old.
So, he's just living his life.
Something I'm trying to do.
Texas is like a big, old wheel, and it's a fast track to death once you get on death row.
A lot go, and very few come home.
You can't win with Texas sometimes, especially when you're innocent.
If they're out to get you, they're out to get you.
And basically, they'll do... they'll break their own laws.
That's just the way Texas is.
It always has been like that, and I'm pretty sure it's not gonna change no time soon.
[opening theme music playing]
[man] In 2007, I got a random call one day from a senior partner, one of the best lawyers in the firm, and he said, "You were a public defender once, right?" I was like, "Yeah."
He said, "Good, because we've got a death penalty case, pro bono, out of Houston, Texas.
Do you want it?"
And I said yes instantly.
Hey. How's it going? [woman] Good.
By the time we got this case, Dewayne had been on death row not quite two years.
One of the first things I did was read the transcripts of the trial.
And I'm like, "Hmm. Nothing here."
All the hallmarks of a traditionally strong case, science, strong witness IDs, none of that was here, none of it.
There was what's called a direct appeal, and he already had that and he lost.
So, Dewayne figured he was going to die.
He didn't know there was a legal pleading called a writ of habeas corpus, which is what we were assigned to do.
A writ presents any new evidence that wasn't available at trial.
In this case, the Harris County DA's Office is my adversary.
They are trying to protect the conviction, trying to hold the conviction.
For the six years we were fighting it, they were fighting us.
As a prosecutor, when you have a writ, you kind of start from the position that the conviction is valid.
Twelve citizens made this decision.
I'm not going to undo it on a whim.
When this writ was filed, it was gigantic.
I had seen writs before, and they were about 20 or 30 pages long, and this one was almost 300 pages.
I remember sitting in front of my desk and reading the transcript, and it was the first time it ever happened to me, and I literally started crying.
I had tried plenty of cases, but there was something so tragic and sad about this crime.
[phone rings out]
Houston Police, Woods. May I help you?
Hi, I'm calling from an Ace location, and one of our centers is in the process of getting robbed right now.
Oh, one of your centers?
Yes. It's 5700 South Loop East.
Okay, you said 5700...
South. Go ahead.
South, Code 1 robbery in progress.
5700 South Loop East at the Ace Cash Express.
14N30 citation, you can show me arriving on that.
10-30, step 'em up. They got guns.
14N20, have you headed that way?
It's robbery in progress.
Yes, got shots fired.
Officer down! 14N30 is down!
Yes, I have an officer down. 5700 South Loop East.
They're going... eastbound on the loop. In a white...
Yes, suspect eastbound on the loop in a white Pontiac.
I'm a wrecker driver. Officer Clark's down, he's been shot.
Need to send an ambulance out here quick.
[indistinct radio chatter]
We have a female that's still breathing. We have a female that's still breathing.
[female reporter] Just before 10:00 this morning, HPD officer Charles Clark was on patrol in Southeast Houston when he received what would be the last call of his life.
When he arrived, Clark was confronted by a gunman, one of at least three men robbing the business.
Officer Clark fired his gun in self-defense, but was shot by at least one of the men.
Also inside was 27-year-old cashier Alfredia Jones, who'd been shot during the robbery.
[Inger Hampton Chandler] Alfredia Jones was back from maternity leave.
She was a rotating clerk for ACE Check Cashing.
That wasn't even her assigned store.
The men bum-rush her, at least one or two of them, get her inside, tell her to open the safe.
[Inger] She had convinced the robbers that she needed to call in or else her supervisors would know that she didn't make it to work on time and that something was wrong.
And so she calls this number and gives the code for robbery.
She was a hero. Her children should know that.
[female reporter] Charlie Clark, a 20-year veteran, was also gunned down.
Charlie was a good guy, and he was a good officer, and this is just a tragedy for him and his family.
Charles Clark, who was a police officer, who was this close to retirement, was actually out patrolling a neighborhood behind the ACE check cashing store, looking for abandoned vehicles that needed to be towed, and he had a tow truck driver that was kind of with him.
[male reporter] According to detectives, the wrecker driver actually saw the gunman coming out of the store...
[Inger] And especially once a police officer is down, it was all men on deck.
I mean, all hands on deck.
One of their own had been brutally murdered.
And so it was a non-stop, 48-hour push until all three of those suspects were in custody.
[reporter] Investigators have now been able to put together this sketch of the main suspect, described as a 30-year-old black male, 6 ft. to 6 ft. 2 in. tall, wearing a dark jacket with red stripes and a baseball cap...
[Alfred Dewayne Brown] My mom stayed in Houston, my grandmother stayed here.
I did a lot of back and forth, I guess.
[woman] Everything on it? Uh, yeah.
I like the openness of being down here.
It's more peaceful.
In Houston, it's fast-paced, more people is constantly going.
I never felt at home in Houston. This...
It just wasn't for me.
[woman] Let me get through this, and I'll call you back.
I don't want to hear nothing she's got to say.
I can be mean sometimes, just a little bit.
Now I'm looking for the spoons.
He was born in Houston.
But after he grew up, he came back to stay down here.
I think he stayed down here while he was...
I think he was 12, 13, something like that.
My mom wanted him to come back here.
[Brian Stolarz] And those are the years, 11 through, I think, 15, in which he was thriving and happy.
Not educationally thriving, mind you, 'cause he still was reading on a kindergarten or first grade level.
And then when he went to Houston when he was 15, imagine going to a big public school after being in sort of a country school in Louisiana.
And he just didn't do well.
I knew some dudes, but I just didn't feel comfortable with them
'cause they was doing things that I wasn't doing, you know.
[Brian] Dewayne goes from the beautiful rural areas in Louisiana, to the Americana apartment complex in South Houston, which was a bad place.
[Inger] I mean, every officer in town knows that place, and it's not uncommon to have cases that come in with people from that area.
[Cat Brown] So I moved in a low-income apartment, and I think that's the worst thing I did, 'cause he got hooked up with them little...
How would I call them?
[male reporter] Police say these are the guys who did it:
DaShan Glaspie, followed by Elijah Joubert, and then, tagging along behind them, Alfred Brown.
I knew them from just being in the apartments.
It was one of those things where... when you wake up, you get dressed and it's the weekend, you go outside, you're gonna see them.
Elijah's nickname was Ghetto T.
And Shan's nickname was P Real.
[Brian] They called him Doby.
And he was with them, at least one or two of those guys, the night before.
You know, drinking and gambling and having fun at the VA.
[Inger] The three got associated together.
So, once the officers have these three names, the investigation just starts naturally going in that direction.
[Dewayne] The morning the crime took place, I was watching a talk show early that morning, there was breaking news coming on.
I'm like, "Man, what's going on?"
Two days go by, and my mom called.
She was like, "Well, since they're saying you had something to do with it, let's just go and turn yourself in."
I'm like, "Okay."
So we leave the apartments.
We get maybe a block from the outside gate of the apartments and next thing you know the law just started pulling up, swooping their cars.
They're on the microphone, "Get out with your hands up!"
[Inger] DaShan Glaspie had been handled a number of times by the criminal justice system.
Elijah Joubert had pending cases at the time that this capital murder happened.
So, you have two that have fairly extensive criminal histories.
You have Alfred Brown, who doesn't.
I think he had a misdemeanor.
[Brian] He was not involved in the robberies they were doing or the drug-dealing they were doing, but he lived in the same sort of rough apartment complex that they all did.
[Inger] And then once they were arrested, that's where Alfred Brown really gets labeled as the shooter of Officer Charles Clark.
DaShan Glaspie and Elijah Joubert are being interviewed in homicide interview rooms and they're pointing to each other as to who shot Alfredia Jones, but they're both saying Doby, or Alfred Brown, is the one who shot Officer Charles Clark.
[Brian] Dewayne was picked on purpose because he was not hard, as it were, because he was an easy guy to set up.
[Dewayne] Next thing you know, officers come in, "You have the right to remain silent..." And I'm like, "What am I getting arrested for?"
And he never said, he just read me my rights.
Once he put them handcuffs on me that time...
I stayed gone for 12 years and 30 days.
[Brian] This is an incredibly high-profile crime in Houston because this is a police officer shooting case.
And Dan Rizzo was the prosecuting attorney assigned in Dewayne's case.
He has to get justice quickly, affirmatively, and put a villain out there for everyone to see.
And that was Dewayne.
Once a prosecutor gets tunnel vision, everything else kind of fades away.
If they want a conviction, they're going to get it.
Driving trucks has always been a passion of mine.
My daddy did it. My uncles, they all did it.
So I've always been around it.
Before I went to jail, the farthest I'd go was Texas and Louisiana.
And that was that, I didn't do no traveling.
With the last two years, I done been all over the United States.
Once you get behind this wheel, it's like...
You know, you see the open road, and it's comfortable, man.
You enjoy everything.
I guess being locked up for ten years on death row, man, it's like, "I don't need to be in the house. I want to stay outside."
[woman] This case was assigned to me because very, very, very few people can afford to hire someone to represent them on a capital murder case because they're so expensive.
And at that time in Texas, the death penalty was a very real probability.
[Inger] What was difficult about this case for the state is that the case was entirely based on statements and identifications.
This case does not have any forensic or scientific evidence associated with it.
No DNA, no fingerprints.
No gunshot residue.
[Loretta Muldrow] There were two different calibers of firearms.
And so they knew that one had killed Miss Jones.
[Inger] The second gun, the gun that was responsible for the death of Officer Clark, was never found.
It's a bit of a hole in the story.
The gun that was responsible for the death of Alfredia Jones was Glaspie's gun, but Glaspie ended up cutting a deal with Dan Rizzo and in exchange for his testimony against Elijah Joubert and Alfred Dewayne Brown, he was convicted of aggravated robbery and given a sentence of 30 years.
[Brian] They decided to go with Glaspie, I think, because he seemed to be more believable than Joubert.
And they gave him the prize.
And what's the prize? 30 years instead of death.
[Inger] The theory that the state chose when they tried Elijah Joubert was that Joubert had used Glaspie's gun to kill the clerk.
[male reporter] Joubert is the first to be tried.
Today at the courthouse, his friends said he's innocent.
[reporter] But the jury heard evidence out of Joubert's own mouth that he was involved.
In a videotaped police interview, Joubert said he was there, but he was not responsible for the shootings.
[Elijah Joubert] In order to understand me, you have to understand the world I come from.
All of my childhood friends, we grew up, our mamas on drugs, our daddies ain't around, our fathers ain't around.
We're basically raising ourselves in a... in a poverty-stricken project.
People that's living in poverty go through the judicial system and get railroaded because you don't have the financial resources to fight these people.
Those prosecutors have the power, and it's about wins and losses.
DaShan Glaspie... when he got arrested, he was talking from the get-go.
DETECTIVE: So we're gonna record the interview, OK?
So we can do the right thing here.
You know what I mean?
How'd she get shot, Shan?
Make it right with your soul, Shan.
What happened, Shan?
[Elijah Joubert] They played an audio tape for me and let me hear him telling on me.
DASHAN 'SHAN' GLASPIE: He hit her with the gun on top and she knelt down on the bench, and she was down like this and she get hit with the gun and it goes off...
DETECTIVE: When? When did he bop her in the head?
SHAN: When she was down. When she got down...
[Elijah] So, now, I gotta save myself because I can't let this man shift the whole blame on me.
ELIJAH 'GHETTO' JOUBERT: Then when, um... Doby got right there by the door.
The officer... tried to sneak back like was gonna sneak peek around the window, but Doby was already outside the door and shot him... Boom!
[man] And Doby shoots him? [DaShan] He hit him. Boom.
[Elijah] I knew it wasn't true, but I've gotta save myself.
Once they realized that I wouldn't testify, they have to give Glaspie a deal because they have to have him testify that I was the shooter of the clerk and Brown was the shooter of the officer.
If they don't have that, they can't even take Brown to trial.
But I don't understand how the jury even allowed Glaspie to get up there and say that he gave me his gun in the robbery.
Who gives their gun to somebody else and gives up his protection so somebody else could protect his back?
It don't make sense.
[man] Number three, go to the red circle.
[Inger] Other than Joubert and Glaspie, there wasn't anyone that put Alfred Brown at the ACE check cashing store.
[Loretta] The tow truck driver could not identify, he could only give descriptions.
[Inger] Every civilian witness that testified in this case had problems.
It seemed like everybody had a criminal history.
Everybody had told a slightly different story before, if not a completely different story before.
[Loretta] It was suspicious how the witnesses have slowly progressed from not saying Alfred Brown to saying him.
And so I went back to the state and that's when they offer 40 years.
And I'm telling you, I'm almost 65 years old, that never happens on a police officer murder.
It was that tenuous.
[Dewayne] So she was like, "Instead of taking this to trial, and taking the chance of going to death row, why don't you sign for this 40 years and go to jail?
That way you'll be looking for parole."
And that's when I told her, I said, "If you was charged with a crime that you didn't commit, would you sign for that time?"
She said yes.
I told her, I said, "Well, here go the pen, here go the paper.
Why don't you sign for that time and you come and do it then?"
I can appreciate the position that he's in, but it's so much better than being on death row.
[piano music plays]
[woman] When I was picked for this jury, I felt very honored because I heard the story about the police officer being killed and my uncle is a police officer... was, in Bayonne, New Jersey.
So I had a heart for police officers.
This is my actual letter.
"Trial of the State of Texas vs. Alfred Brown.
Scheduled 9.30 a.m. on Monday, October 10th, 2005."
What bothered me the most was Brown is only 23 years old and I related him to my four sons as a loving mother.
Look at his facial expression.
Ain't that something?
I wonder what he's thinking.
The minute I walked into the courtroom, I just looked at him, and he was so sad.
I can see he was withdrawn, and it broke my heart to see him.
Normally, somebody would show some feelings, but when his girlfriend came up, when Ericka came up and said he was there and actually did the act of shooting the police officer, that was powerful for me.
[woman] When I met Dewayne, he was sweet as pie.
He was a calm guy and I think that was the yin to my yang
'cause I'm rambunctious, and he's so reserved.
You know, I think that's why we worked.
My second apartment was Plum Creek.
I'll never forget it.
I fell in love with it when I first saw the apartment.
I had just got my Section 8.
So, you know young girls, that's a big deal, that's to help you get on your feet so you can work and you can move up.
[man] Ericka, she basically held us all together after my sister passed.
So, when my sister passed, we all went to her house, and that was our comfort.
There was just something about Ericka that everybody just wanted to be around.
Reggie cooked, I didn't have to cook.
I went out and I made the money, Reggie cooked.
That was our deal.
[Reginald Jones] Her work ethic is crazy.
She's going to work to make sure her kids have whatever they need.
They're very close.
Three little girls and their ma.
It's always been like that.
I didn't move in with her, but I had clothes there, I'ma put it that way. You know?
But she... I would go there and spend the night.
[Ericka] My girls loved him.
You know, we was happy... And then, boom!
This happened, and I was like, "Damn."
That took away the happy place.
[Dewayne] The day before the crime took place, I left the house, went to the VA.
[Ericka] We had a big argument the night before because the same guys they locked him up with was the same guys I didn't like, and I'm like, "Where are you going? It's 11 o'clock at night. You're supposed to be at home."
He'd be like, "I'm finna go hang out with..."
"The hell you is!"
Him and Ericka had gotten into it.
He wanted me to drop him off.
[Dewayne] There was a bunch of people out there, just gambling and shooting dice.
I don't know what it was, but my stomach started messing with me.
So I left there, went back to Ericka's house...
And we went our separate ways. I went upstairs, never came back down.
He stayed on the couch.
That's where he was when I saw him that morning.
[Dewayne] When I wake up and everything, the house is just going wild, just kids running around getting ready for school.
Ericka, she's getting ready.
"Girls, get up! Time to get dressed!
I gotta leave out the house!" And we shoots out the house.
I get up, Doby was on the couch.
Next thing, I'm like, "Man, I'm finna go upstairs and go to sleep."
He gets up, he goes upstairs.
I start playing a video game.
I'm playing the game for a little while, I don't know how long, but I cut the game off, and breaking news, it was a shooting.
[man] The call came down at 9:45 on Thursday morning as a robbery in progress...
I see it on the TV, and that's when I call Ericka.
The lady she's working for, she answered the phone.
It came across that caller ID and it said "Ericka Dockery," so that's my house.
And she was like, "This is for you." It was Dewayne.
I say, "Man, did you see that on the news?"
She was like, "See what?"
I turned on the news.
I'm like, "What the hell?"
[female reporter] A 20-year veteran of the Houston Police Department on the brink of retirement when a single bullet shatters it all.
[Brian] That phone call that he makes was Dewayne's alibi. because if he was at Ericka's home, like he said, he couldn't have been at the murder scene.
Ericka also gave that same statement to the police.
It's in a signed, written statement.
But there's a moment in this case where everything turns.
[woman] In 2014, a friend of mine at Texas Monthly, she says, "Lisa, there's this case in Houston.
It sounds interesting.
Guy on death row for years has always said he was innocent."
And so I was interested, and I looked into it.
I did a column. It was supposed to be one column.
I wanted to write that one column and just kind of move on, but I couldn't. Something bothered me.
In the beginning, Brown's girlfriend was his strongest alibi witness.
She pretty much had the same version of events as Brown said.
Then she ends up testifying against him and helping him get the death penalty.
How do you get from here to here?
And so I went to the courthouse one day, and I asked for the file, and I put it down on the table, and I start just reading through everything.
One of the last things I laid my hands on was something that said, "Grand Jury Transcript."
I had always known that grand jury proceedings were secret, and so the idea that there's a transcript of this thing was shocking to me.
And then I kind of opened it and just started reading, and what I read was appalling, it was shocking, and, you know, for a journalist, it's certainly motivating.
[Ericka] I was sitting behind a desk, the stenographer was over here, it was Rizzo and one of the detectives in the corner, and, you know, the grand jury, it's like this.
[Lisa Falkenberg] In the beginning, she said, "He was on my couch at this time when y'all have him off with the murderers, supposedly.
I remember being at work and getting a call at my workplace..."
But this jury seemed to be hell-bent on getting this person to change her story.
Some of the transcripts are shocking.
For example, one of the grand jurors said to Ericka, "If we find out you're lying under oath, you'll be in serious trouble, and you won't be able to get a job flipping burgers."
[Ericka] You know, I'm telling you what I saw, but you wanted the outcome that you wanted.
The foreperson says, "If the evidence shows you're perjuring yourself, then, you know, the kids are going to be taken by Child Protective Services and you won't see your kids for a long time."
So you're gonna take my children away from me?
That's my heart. They're my babies.
Foreperson: "We're as much concerned about your kids as you are, so tell the truth."
[Ericka] You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip.
If they don't know anything, they just don't fucking know anything.
One of the grand jurors called her, "Girl, you just a big mistake."
They're not trying to find facts, they are badgering this person.
My question after I read this was, "Who are these people?"
I can't tell one grand juror in the transcript from another, so I don't know who's talking, except for when the foreman talks.
[Brian] Foreperson says, "Hey, Dan," which is the first clue.
Why the hell does he know his first name, and why does he call him by his first name?
[Lisa] Dan Rizzo is in the room.
He's not part of the group that's threatening her, but he's not stopping it either.
But he says, "Hey, Dan... what are the punishments for perjury and aggravated perjury?"
And Dan Rizzo says, "It's up to ten years in prison."
And the foreperson says, "In prison? Okay!"
[Lisa] The judge who appointed the grand jury, she gave me the foreman's name, and the first thing I did was Google it, and the first thing that came up was a contribution that he had given to a retired police officers association. [chuckles]
I thought, "No way.
No way would they put a police officer as the head of a grand jury investigating a police officer's murder."
These are supposed to be impartial people, not members of the public who have a vested interest in what happens.
[Lisa] And then I started doing my research and realizing, "Oh! This is actually quite commonplace in Texas," because at the time, we had a system for grand juror selection called "pick-a-pal," where a judge could pick anybody, a friend, let's say, and then tell the friend, "Hey, Joe, go out and find me some grand jurors."
And so often what you would get is older, more conservative, law enforcement-friendly people, and often cops. [chuckles]
[Brian] The foreperson says, "So, tell the truth!
And she says, "Yes, he was there. He was home."
So, even in the face of the badgering and the threatening, she holds firm to the truth.
Rizzo says, "I think you're up to your neck involved in this deal."
Then there's a break that occurred during this testimony.
She got put into a locked room, and Rizzo threatened her.
[Ericka] He talkin' about,, "I'm gonna take your kids from you."
I think he knew that was my pressure point.
"I'm gonna take your kids away, I'm gonna lock you up."
You're trying to make me a co-defendant.
That means I'm gonna get charged as an accessory, that's capital murder on me too, that's a chance that I could get a needle in my arm.
I know that's what "co-defendant" means.
What are you supposed to do if you're Ericka Dockery there?
You don't have money for a lawyer, you are in a hornet's nest, you want to get out.
She comes back, and she adjusts her story just a little.
More to their liking, but not quite.
She is then arrested and charged with perjury, and she's locked up.
[Ericka] At that time, I was 26 or 27, you're trying to give me 30 years.
I haven't even been on this earth 30 years.
How the hell are you gonna try to do this?
[Dewayne] The first three months I stayed in county jail, Ericka, she was coming up there every day.
After those first three months, my mom started coming, and she came, like, a week straight.
So, I'm like, "Where is Ericka?"
That's when she told me they'd locked her up and charged her with three counts of perjury.
I'm like, "For what? What's she lied about?"
[Ericka] I couldn't remember what time I left home.
So, in my statement that I gave them at the police, it was a different time than I gave them at the grand jury.
I couldn't remember.
[Brian] She sits in jail for four months, loses her job, her cousin Reginald was taking care of her kids.
[Reginald] I continue running like she was still there.
The girls have gotta get ready for school, they've gotta eat, I've gotta do my job.
[Ericka] Sitting behind bars, I was so eager to get out because I wanted my babies.
I didn't want them to grow up without their mom.
Her life just in an instant falls apart because Dan Rizzo had the power and the ability to do that.
We have later found out that he confided in other DAs at the time that his tactic in this case was to squeeze Ericka.
And it worked.
[Ericka] People can say... what they want to say.
But until you go through something traumatic, you don't know what you're gonna do, you don't know how you're gonna be.
It's a lot of days I contemplated hurting myself.
I really started thinking, "What is it that I need to do to fix this, to get myself out this situation?"
[Lisa] At some point, she writes the judge and just tells him how awful this jail is and how much she misses her children and that she'll basically just do anything to get out of there.
[Reginald] They broke her.
She changed her statement a couple of times, and they finally said, "Okay.
We'll release you, but we're going to release you on a monitor."
[Lisa] They wanted her to wear an ankle monitor, she had a curfew, and she was required to report to a homicide detective once a week.
Now, why would that be?
To make sure she gets her story straight.
To make sure she tells the same story that she says she'll tell on the stand.
[Reginald] I guess how she's looked at, she's the focal point of the whole trial.
Without Dockery, they couldn't have... They didn't have shit.
[Inger] Alfred Brown's alibi was, "I was at my girlfriend's apartment."
Loretta Muldrow did everything she could to try to elicit as much information and evidence as she could about that alibi at trial.
And she was hamstrung because she didn't have phone records to prove it.
[Anne Marie O'Donnell] The phone call that they claim that he made, they could not prove it, they didn't have the evidence.
They didn't have any piece of paper showing it.
To tell the truth, he had hardly nobody to defend him like the other side did.
Right? And who are you going to believe?
[Dewayne] Dan Rizzo, from my eyes, it's like he ran the courtroom, and the judge was there to sign off on it.
Rizzo was like a giant, like out of the Bible.
And everybody listened to him.
[Ericka] I was sweating walking through that courtroom.
Dewayne looking at me.
Rizzo looking at me.
And the first thing you want to do...
Well, the first thing I did do is I cried on the stand.
I don't care who you are or how strong you are, that is a lot to deal with.
[Dewayne] Dan Rizzo asked her some questions and all she was doing... She was, "Yes. Yes. Yes."
She just was agreeing to everything he was saying.
You have Ericka Dockery coming in and testifying that she visited Brown in jail, and she asked him, "Were you there at the robbery?"
And he put his head down and said, "I was there."
[Loretta] This was a very surreal moment for us because there was no prior statement anywhere attributed to her saying that.
That was very traumatic, just hearing... he shot the officer.
Why would she say that if it wasn't true?
Having to lie... it wasn't something I wanted to do, but it was something I needed to do.
And it wasn't... to get myself out a bad situation.
No, it was because my girls didn't have anyone else.
[Loretta] It was very obvious Ericka Dockery had been coerced.
That was frustration.
And I'm raising my voice because it's like... uh, PTSD for me.
[Brian] It was three days.
Three days of trial.
For a death penalty case?
It almost seemed like guilt was, like, a foregone conclusion.
[Anne Marie] The jury room, everybody was in a hurry to get out.
The first person said, "We will go home today, we're gonna go home today."
You know, "It's over with," and stuff like that.
You shouldn't be talking like that.
You should be at the table, discussing everything together.
But at the very end, Ericka... That's what helped me to say that he was guilty.
And down deep, I said, "Oh, my God. Oh, my God."
We said, "Guilty," then he yelled out, "I didn't do it," or something like that.
It made me so sad.
When I heard that, I almost wanted to cry because he was so sincere when he yelled that out.
Oh, yeah, I said, uh, "I didn't kill nobody, I didn't rob nobody."
I guess that was my breaking point, man, I couldn't take it no more.
I couldn't sit there and just watch them... continue to do what they were doing.
I couldn't take it no more, man.
I couldn't take it no more.
I got found guilty... they, um...
they... brought me to the back.
They, uh, brought me to the back.
They brought me to my dorm 'cause I was still in population.
They told me, um...
pack all my stuff up, and they brought me to death row.
I get to death row... you go see the doctor.
They check your ears, ask you, "Are you on any drugs?
Do you do any drugs?"
They, um... give you, uh, your number, you... uh, your death row number.
Mine was 999504.
...you get butt naked.
You got to squat, lift your...
[sighs]...lift your penis up, and your balls.
You're not allowed to have anything... at that point... till, um, they get done with you.
You could stay butt naked up to... [sniffs]
...30 minutes to an hour.
Then they bring you to your cell, they give you a jumper.
They bring to the cell whatever you had in the county jail.
If they don't want you to have it, they take it.
And... you're in the cell.
When you get ready to come out of that cell when you're on death row, you got to get butt naked again.
You got to lift your penis up, lift your balls up...
...bend over, spread your ass cheeks.
And you have to do that... going into your cell... coming... going back to your cell. If you go to a visit, you have to do it.
When you come back from the visit, you have to do it.
If you're going to the medical... to see the doctor, the dentist... [sniffs]
...if you're leaving the cell, you got to do it.
If you're going to rec, you have to do it.
Going to the shower, you have to do it.
And... that's what I did, for ten years.
You're shut off from the outside world and there's nothing you can do about it.
[Brian] This case has left me very sad and disappointed.
There you go. Thank you.
[Brian] I say I'm angry, but really, at the very root of it, I'm disappointed that it all had to come to this.
I like to say that as a public defender, I developed a good bullshit meter.
I could seriously spot a criminal or a liar or a bullshitter a mile away.
But I saw him, and then, like, it was a shot right to my heart, like...
Oh, my God!
It was like when you hold your kid for the first time, it's truth that hits you in a place that only you could know, like this really affirming truth deep down that he was telling me the truth.
That's what I believed that day.
[Dewayne] When Brian came and introduced himself, I didn't trust him.
It took me three years to actually accept him in.
But then them three years, he would come up there and just unexpectedly, he wouldn't let me know he's coming or nothing. He'd just pop up.
[Brian] I'd go see him a bunch because I wanted him to know there was someone out there that was fighting for him and cared for him.
In a lot of ways, it was my energy, too. Like, I needed the juice of seeing him to remind myself why I was doing this.
We had boots on the ground for months, investigating witnesses, going to talk to everybody.
And it wasn't challenging to get affidavits because the truth is easy to remember.
[Elijah] All the years Brown was here, man, he never hated me.
He never showed no kind of anger towards me.
But... just to know he's here and I'm part of it, it was eating me inside.
He came to me one day, and he asked me, he was like, "Man, what do you think about helping me?"
I said, "Man... whatever you need me to do, man, I'll do it, because we both know the truth."
[Brian] We called Dewayne on his birthday, and he said, "So, you know, they've moved Joubert close to me, and he's willing to talk to you."
I go interview him, and he says, "Your boy don't belong here."
And I say, "Yeah, I know. Tell me who did it."
He said, "I'm no snitch. I ain't telling you shit."
But Joubert then writes an affidavit saying, "Alfred Dewayne Brown was in no way responsible for this murder.
He was not even with us that day."
But he would not write in the affidavit who did it because he still remained not a snitch.
[Elijah] If they killed me, at least I freed myself, you know what I'm saying, of the guilty conscience I had knowing this man was here... because I didn't say nothing in the beginning.
[Brian] Ericka was the biggest affidavit to get because the first thing she said was the truth.
She was under that ankle bracelet for so long that she was afraid to talk to anybody.
[Ericka] You know, it's been 15 years, but it's not a day that don't go by that I don't think about this case.
And my granny always tell me, "You can't keep sweeping shit under the rug, Ericka."
[laughs] "You've gotta deal with it."
So she said, "If it keeps coming up, that means you haven't dealt with it."
[Brian] So I flew down on a Sunday, met her at a Cajun restaurant, and I said, "I am not the cops.
I can't do a damn thing to you.
I'm just on a search for the truth, period."
I asked her, "Was Dewayne home when you left for work that morning?"
And she started to cry.
And she said, "Yes."
And then I said, "Did you get a phone call that morning?"
And so she began a sort of cathartic release.
Do you know how hard it is to wake up every day and look yourself in the mirror, knowing that you did a cause and effect in someone's life?
That was like a cloud hanging over my head, and how could you live with something like that?
[Reginald] I understand why she did what she did.
At first, I didn't.
"No, you're wrong. You're gonna get this man killed.
He's... They gave him the death penalty, Ericka. You're tripping."
But when I finally had my daughter, I understood.
You do whatever it takes to protect your child.
She did exactly what I would have did.
Protect my kids, get back to my kids.
So, I understand what Ericka did.
[Ericka] Now I'm taking steps to do what's right and to change what I did to Dewayne.
[Brian] The truth was coming out.
But to what end?
Because I'd give all these affidavits to the DAs and they're like, "Eh, they're affidavits.
Either they lied at trial, they lied now, they're liars.
No." You know, "Good luck."
[Inger] The thing about recanting affidavits, it goes back to the question, were you lying then, or are you lying now?
What is your motivation for changing your story now?
Is it different than what your motivation was for telling the original story?
The practice of our office was to go out and talk to everybody, and we did that.
I mean, I challenged every single claim that they raised.
I basically said, "This is the claim that's being raised, and this is the reason why it's wrong and why it doesn't warrant relief."
[Brian] Although Inger Hampton said she wanted to search for the truth, I'm not so sure that that was the case.
She wanted to protect what Dan Rizzo did.
Whether they knew the full extent of what Dan Rizzo did, I don't know.
Absent any evidence other than allegations that pressure had been brought to bear, that threats had been made, and Dan Rizzo gave an affidavit saying that none of that happened.
So, it was... It...
There was no... It was...
It was a "he said, she said."
I worked with Dan Rizzo.
He was senior to me in the office.
I've always had a good relationship with him, I've never personally witnessed him do any of the things that he's accused of doing in the writ.
[Brian] I met him only one time.
I was going through evidence in the DA's office, and he came by, shook my hand, and he's like, "What case are you on?
I'm like, "Oh, the Brown case."
He's like, "Oh, Brown. What was that one?"
Like he's got so many damn death penalty cases!
And he was, uh, sort of flip and sort of "bleh," and I wanted to say right then, "I'm gonna get this guy out."
Once I realized sort of the facts of this case, I realized that the phone records were everything.
In a non-DNA case, this was our DNA.
So, we subpoenaed the phone company.
They said, "The records are long gone."
We speak to the cops. "We don't have them."
We ask his prior lawyer, Loretta Muldrow, "Hey, did you ever subpoena the phone records?"
Considering that was his goddamn alibi the whole time.
She's like, "I didn't subpoena them because I worked at the phone company and I didn't think they keep them."
[Loretta] At the time, the technology was that you could not get landline records.
I was aware of that, and so was Officer Breck McDaniel.
[Inger] Breck McDaniel, who was an officer with the Houston Police Department had really established himself as an expert in the area of cell phone evidence.
Breck was able to obtain the cell phone data on both Elijah Joubert and DaShan Glaspie.
Alfred Dewayne Brown did not have a phone.
So, the story, as it was told, was that he would use one of their phones.
[Brian] Breck McDaniel comes to court with these sort of really fancy maps.
"Call by Doby to Sharonda Simon on Glaspie's cell phone."
So, you had to accept Glaspie's initial statement, which was, "Brown borrowed my phone all day."
Just like, "Joubert borrowed my gun."
It all should have been stricken as hearsay because how do we know that Dewayne made the call from Glaspie's cell phone?
So, legally this is an improper document.
Breck McDaniel testified at trial about these cell phone records, but here we are, many years later, with no avenue to get these landline records.
I would go down and see Dewayne and I'd say, "I can't find these fucking phone records."
I'd be so angry.
And he'd put his hand on the glass, he'd say, "Get it up here. Put your hand up here," and I'd reluctantly put my hand up there, kinda sad.
He's like, "It's okay."
He's like, "I believe in what you're doing, man, and the truth is gonna come out."
Despite the fact that I believed in his innocence a hundred percent, I believed we wouldn't win.
And my wife will tell you that she didn't know what that was going to do to me.
[woman] Each of us knows what it is for a swarm to come, making it nearly impossible to keep going.
[Brian] I'd come home from Houston stressed and panicked, and I'd try to pick up my own pieces and be a dad, and a husband, and a churchgoer, and a community member, but I would think about him all the time.
[woman] Perhaps the swarms that we face are larger than we are.
And we suffer the consequences of systems that fail us and violence that does not know our names, yet injures us just the same.
[Dewayne] A guy that I knew on death row, he was about three cells down from me... he actually hung himself...
...with a tennis shoe.
Tennis shoe strings.
Being on death row... it'll hurt you.
[Inger] So, the writ is filed, I file my response, and here we are in, like, 2013, and I remember one of my colleagues from the writs division showing up in my doorway, and she said, "Have you ever seen this?" And she handed me a piece of paper, and I just...
I mean, I probably swore.
I think I was like, "Where the hell did you get this?
[Loretta] One day, out of the blue, I get a call from the chief of the post-conviction unit.
She said she contacted, uh... the "phone expert," and she asked him one last time, "Is there anything else?"
And he said, "Let me check, I'll get back to you.
[Brian] We subpoenaed Breck McDaniel, the police officer, to come and make sure that he has all the records from the case.
A couple weeks before the hearing, we get an email like I've never seen before in my life, which says that Breck McDaniel had been spring cleaning his garage and found a box of documents on the Brown case.
It sounds like you're reading a bad John Grisham novel, but you're not.
Breck McDaniel was spring cleaning his garage and found documents that said "Brown" on it.
And she said, "Did you get a copy of Ericka Dockery's landline records?"
I said, "Of course not.
Are you telling me they exist?"
In pops in my email inbox... the phone record.
The phone record I've been looking for all these years.
[Inger] Fear washed over me.
"Did I miss something? What did I miss?"
But, sure as I sit here today, I...
That piece of paper was not in the state's file.
Why is it in his garage?
Do you know why it was in his garage? Neither do I.
[Inger] Did Breck think that Dan had it? Did Dan have it?
Where did it go? Why did it only exist in a box in a garage?
I don't have any way of explaining that.
[Brian] Breck McDaniel testified at trial and never made reference to these phone records.
He made reference to other phone records.
But the fact that he was seen as a telephone expert makes his testimony all the more abhorrent.
[Loretta] What I saw was a copy.
I'm only speculating, but if one only has the copy, where would the original be?
There's only one attorney who handled guilt, and that would have been Dan Rizzo.
[Lisa] In criminal cases, there's an adversarial process, but the defense isn't supposed to go in blind.
They're supposed to know if the prosecution has exculpatory evidence, evidence that could help the defense, and so there's case law called Brady that requires prosecutors to hand over evidence they believe may help the defense.
[Brian] This case is the definition of a Brady violation in which a prosecutor violated a legal duty, a constitutional duty, to turn over documents that are helpful to the defense.
[Inger] Clearly, this is Brady evidence.
It's evidence that is dead on to the alibi defense, and they didn't have this piece of evidence.
They withheld exculpatory evidence on purpose to get a conviction in a high-profile case, period.
[woman] Good afternoon.
I took an oath when I became Harris County District Attorney.
I swore to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the State of Texas and of the United States
[Loretta] By this point, Devon Anderson is the new DA and the pressure by the police community, the union presidents...
For them to go back and now say, "We were wrong,"
I think that's the last thing in the world the police want to happen.
During the appeals process, our office discovered a phone record that was inadvertently not disclosed to the defense.
We immediately turned that record over to Brown's defense team.
So, Devon Anderson had to decide whether or not to retry him.
So, then she ordered an investigation, not an outside investigation, but people in-house, her prosecutors, to go through all the evidence and decide whether they had enough to try him.
We re-interviewed all the witnesses, we looked at all the evidence, and we're coming up short.
I don't know how else to say it.
We cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore the law demands that I dismiss this case and release Mr. Brown.
[Dewayne] The guard came.
Instead of handcuffing me in the back, he handcuffed me in the front.
Then he walked me to my cell.
He, um... took the handcuffs off right in front of the cell and said, "Let me know when you're ready."
I'm sitting there, standing there in a daze.
Everybody was screaming and hollering my name, saying, "You're going home," 'cause they had seen it on TV.
I got my stuff and I...
Well, I just walked down the stairs, and I left.
[cheering and hollering]
[Lisa] I remember seeing him emerge, and I saw him look at me, and I saw him reach out to hug me, and for a split second, I thought, "I don't know what to do! Do I hug him?"
He's somebody I'm writing about, and I need to be neutral.
And then another voice said, "This man just got freed from death row.
Are you crazy? Give the guy a hug!" [laughs]
[Dewayne] As far as me speaking negative, it's not worth it, you know.
I'm gonna just live my life, and I hope everybody else lives theirs.
I go to school and pick up my daughter, Audrey, who is eight.
And I see her across the field, and I'm over here, and we kind of run to each other, like lovers in a movie.
We kind of fall into each other, and we fall on the ground.
And I say, "Hey, Dewayne's getting out today."
And she says, "That's great, but I got my yearbook today." [laughs]
[Dewayne] When I got out of jail and they brought me back down here to Louisiana, my grandmother, she was still living.
I took my shoes off and just walked around the yard.
And she was like, "What you doing?"
I'm like, "It's been 12 years and some days...
I haven't touched no grass."
I was glad to see her before she passed.
'Cause that was a lady I was really close to.
She used to make me go to her garden and help her pick mustard greens, okra, and potatoes and stuff like that.
I used to hate going out there. But now...
I'm thinking about building my own garden just to, you know... just to have it.
Just to do it, man.
I just need the land.
[man] Houston Police Officers' Union is here today to support District Attorney Anderson.
But let us be clear... that we believe we had the right man at that time, and we believe we have the right man now.
There is no statute of limitations on capital murder.
We will continue to seek justice for the Clark family.
We will not stop until justice is served for them.
Because the charges are dismissed, I will concede... he's constitutionally innocent... until proven guilty.
There's never really any acknowledgment, uh, from the actual prosecutor that he or she acted wrongly, and there's never really an expression of regret, there's never really an accounting for what went on.
In Texas, prosecutors have almost absolute immunity.
This prosecutor, Dan Rizzo, who put somebody on death row by violating his rights, can just live the rest of his life happily in retirement.
He's gotta live with it.
[Brian] Until states begin to prosecute prosecutors who do the wrong thing, prosecute them criminally, it will happen again.
[Lisa] Dan Rizzo, when I spoke with him, was retired and taking care of his mother.
He seemed to be genuinely trying to recall the facts and seemed to be generally foggy on some things, and this phone record may have been misplaced, it may have been overlooked, but he did not recall seeing it.
"Oh, I never knew about those.
Oh, my God!
I'm an arbiter of justice, just like everybody else.
I wanted to see if he was innocent too!"
The email comes, and that shatters all of that to total bullshit.
[Inger] What we learned in that civil case is that in addition to the phone records, there was also an email from Breck McDaniel to Dan Rizzo letting him know about the landline record.
And he says, "I think it is a new development.
I was hoping that it would clearly refute Ericka's claim that she received a call at work from Doby at about ten."
"I was hoping it would refute it, but it doesn't, Dan!"
It's clear from the email that Breck knew about the call and that he expresses to Dan that it's not favorable to the case.
It's certainly not in line with the theory.
He stated, "I need you to issue a subpoena because I got these records."
This email is from the day after Ericka testifies to the grand jury.
And the attachment is the blank version of this subpoena. Okay?
The attachment is blank 'cause I've seen it.
And he signs it.
There's the signature right there.
I don't know why he denies knowing about these records.
[Lisa] Prosecutors have a very difficult job and mistakes are made.
But sometimes it's not about a mistake.
Sometimes it's a very willful decision made by a prosecutor to hide evidence.
And that's what happened here.
And that's why, in my opinion, there won't be justice done in this case unless Dan Rizzo is held accountable for what he did.
I would like to see Dan Rizzo go to death row for... a month.
A month. And I guarantee you he'll be crying the second day in there, talking about, "Let me out." [laughs] I would like to see that.
Just to get a laugh.
Nah, what I would like to see... for the DAs that are current, and the ones that's coming up to be a DA, I would really like for them to follow the rules that they went to school for instead of breaking the law just to get a conviction.
That's what I would like to see too. I would really like to see that.
[Brian] Dewayne's been released now for three-plus years, and we believe now it's time for him to be compensated.
[Lisa] But the State of Texas won't compensate him because he does not have an official declaration of "actual innocence."
He's still technically presumed innocent, because he was charged, and then the case was dismissed.
That's not legally the same implication as "actually innocent."
The DA has appointed a special counsel to determine Dewayne's actual innocence.
It's a way for the DA to say sort of, "The sins of the past are over.
What happened in this case was wrong.
He's innocent. Pay him. Let him live his life."
[woman] Good morning. I'm here to talk to you and the public about the State of Texas vs. Alfred Dewayne Brown.
And let me say that before our announcement is even complete that there are those who will disagree.
That happens every time a district attorney makes a decision of this magnitude about a person's life.
None of us must ever be... afraid of the truth.
It does no justice to Officer Clark to convict the wrong person.
The bottom line is that...
Assistant District Attorney Rizzo jumped to conclusions and convicted an innocent man.
Now, there is no evidence sufficient for a reasonable juror to find that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the legal definition of innocence.
And Alfred Dewayne Brown is innocent as a matter of law.
[Kim Ogg] Police and prosecutors disagree every day. We have different jobs.
Ours is to determine whether the legal standard can be met by the evidence that's provided.
That's exactly what we did in this case.
The system has worked in this case.
Alfred Brown was wrongfully convicted through prosecutorial... misconduct.
Get out here.
What's going on, man?
[Brian] Oh, my goodness.
What's good with you, man?
I can't believe you're wearing a Yankee hat.
Do you know how much I hate the Yankees? Can I take this off?
[Dewayne laughs] Go ahead, man.
[Brian] We're about as close to being done as possible now.
I mean, once the compensation comes in, then you live your life, and you do whatever you want to do, in peace. You know?
You're feeling closer to that, I guess? I wasn't worried about it but I did feel really good when she came out with it. Yeah.
It was like, "Wow!" Yeah.
Now that the case is basically over, you don't have to talk to your lawyers no more.
You can just live your life.
I know one of them I'll keep talking to. [Brian laughs]
[Brian] If the system plays fair, the right result usually happens.
The guilty go to jail, the innocent don't.
But if someone in the system does not play fairly, then... unjust results occur.
So, that's what happened here.
[Lisa] Let's not forget the victims.
Let's not forget Charles Clark, the officer who was so near retirement, looking forward to spending the rest of his life with the woman he loves.
Let's not forget Alfredia Jones, who was just back from maternity leave and had a very young child that she's supposed to be taking care of.
These people were murdered.
They deserve justice.
Let's think about their families. They're not getting justice either.
Then there is Ericka Dockery.
I mean, this woman had no involvement with the criminal justice system until she was called in as a witness, and she was treated as the criminal.
And let's think about Brown.
He'll never get those years back that he served behind bars.
There are quite a few victims here, but I would say that... the system itself, you know, the system that we believe in and the faith that we have in the system is also a "victim", is also harmed every time there's a case like this.
[Brian] For Dewayne, what's really important to him is what he is determined to be.
He's actually innocent, and that's what he wants the world to know.
[Dewayne] I want to build me a race car.
I want to continue to drive 18-wheelers.
And I just want to live a quiet, calm, country-style life.
And that's my plan, that's my goal, that's my dream.
I like this lifestyle.
I'm not worried about nobody, I'm not trying to get in nobody's business, I'm not trying to get in no trouble.
Just leave me alone and let me live to see a hundred years old, you know.