Inmate to be released after serving 5 years for case tied to former officer linked to botched raid

ByCharly Edsitty via KTRK logo
Friday, July 22, 2022
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"I want to praise the Lord": Frederick Jeffrey's mother hasn't seen him in five years, and she'll be the first person to hug him when he is finally released.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Sometime on Friday, a man who spent years in prison will be freed.

Frederick Jeffrey's conviction came under scrutiny after it was learned that one of the officers implicated in the notorious Harding Street raid handled his case.

He is expected to be released from custody on bond at some point on Friday, and his mother will be the first to greet him.

It will be the first time he has not been behind bars in five years.

READ MORE: Inmate serving 25 years to be freed after prosecutors found HPD officer lied about conviction

He is serving a 25-year sentence for drug possession charges that the Harris County District Attorney's Office says are faulty.

It all hinges on police work done by former Houston Police Officer Gerald Goines, who claimed Jeffrey was tied to drugs in a case from 2018.

A key piece of evidence in the case was a cellphone that Goines claimed belonged to Jeffrey, but investigators with the DA's office found body camera footage from that day where a co-defendant said the phone belonged to him, not Jeffrey.

Jeffrey appeared before a judge in the 182nd Court on Friday.

After listening to some facts from the investigation, the judge ultimately decided to issue a personal recognizance (PR) bond to Jeffrey to release him from custody. He also apologized for being wrongly convicted.

At court, Jeffrey's mother talked about her reaction to her son being released.

"I'm feeling overwhelmed right now. I want to praise the Lord," Tina Baldwin said. "I've been praising since my son has been in jail because I knew he was innocent from day one."

ABC13 spoke with the division chief from the Harris County District Attorney's Office, who had a message for Jeffrey.

"Mr. Jeffrey should have never been incarcerated. He's been incarcerated, tragically, I would say, for the last 5.5 years. It doesn't give him that time back," Josh Reiss said. "The best that we can do, right now for him, is to get him out of incarceration, he should have never been there to begin with. And on behalf of the state of Texas, apologize to him."

The legal process is not over. The Court of Criminal Appeals must give their final approval of the decision, but that should happen quickly.

The final approval will overturn the case.

Goines was the lead officer in the botched Harding Street raid that killed Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas-Tuttle in January 2019.

After investigators determined Goines lied in the paperwork to obtain a no-knock warrant on the Tuttles' home, the Harris County District Attorney's Office began reviewing other Goines cases.

SEE MORE: 91 more Gerald Goines drug convictions being investigated by district attorney (from May 2020)

Baldwin said Jeffery was homeless and struggled with drug addiction all his adult life.

"He was homeless. He never owned a house, none. He never had no money," she said. She hasn't seen him since he was incarcerated more than five years ago.

But she never doubted that his conviction in 2018 on possession charges was drummed up by Goines, the officer who made the arrest.

"They only went by Goines' words and his background. That's how Fred got the time he got," she said.

Baldwin recalled at the time of his arrest, Jeffery was homeless. He was walking around near a house that Goines busted. Goines then attributed a broken phone inside the home to Jeffery.

Even though all of that was questionable, Baldwin recalled it didn't really matter. After all, Goines was a respected veteran narcotics officer at the time. Jeffery had a long criminal record and admitted to using drugs.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: The Harding Street raid and the fallout

Despite those odds, Jeffery has always maintained his innocence. Besides keeping his case alive through the court, he even wrote letters from jail.

In a letter sent to the District Clerk in 2020, Jeffery wrote from prison that he needed an update on his appeals, asking, "I see on TV that 69 people have got they (sic) case [thrown] out from HPD Officer Gerald Goines. I am trying to find out what's going on in my case. Can you help me?"

Then, in March 2022, Jeffery wrote to the judge in his case: "I have been incarcerated for five years and five months. Fighting for my freedom for a crime I didn't commit."

On Thursday, the district attorney's agreed, saying Goines used faulty evidence and lied.

"Fred was homeless. He couldn't afford a piece of bubble gum," said Baldwin, who is eager to welcome her son home. "I love him."

Late Thursday afternoon, Jeffery called his mother from jail, saying someone told him he could be freed as early as Friday morning. Jeffery told her he was informed that he would have to wear an ankle monitor for a few months as paperwork on the case officially clears all the hurdles in the legal system.

SEE ALSO: Man wrongfully convicted and released after 7 years sues Gerald Goines and HPD (from July 2020)

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