HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Almost four years after Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle were shot dead inside their home during a botched drug raid, its lead case agent, former Houston Police Officer Gerald Goines, was back in court Thursday.
Goines' lawyers argued before a judge that the murder indictment against him should be quashed, and if not, they would like a change of venue.
"We believe the indictments are ineffective. We presented to the court and waiting for the occur to complete its research of these important issues," Nicole DeBorde, one of the attorneys representing Goines, said. "We're entitled to know exactly what we're dealing with in terms of an accusation so we can have the opportunity to have a fair fight in a court of law, and we appreciate the court's consideration on these very important issues."
As the hearing was playing out in open court, a few miles west in attorney Stan Schneider's law office, all of it sounded way too familiar.
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"It was the same thing, the same type of offense report, the same false statements, the same manipulation," said Schneider, who represented Keith Carter in a case involving Goines all the way back in 1991.
"Goines came out of nowhere, and I was on the ground, and I guess I was in the middle of a drug raid or something," recalled Carter, who spoke to ABC13 in Schneider's office. "(I never sold) crack to Goines."
During his first trial, Carter was found guilty based on Goines' testimony and was sentenced to 30 years behind bars. But even back then, a judge agreed with Schneider that there were major problems and lies with Goines' police work. Carter was granted a new trial.
"It was pretty significant in the evidence presented to the DA at the time, Goines' testimony at trial, the offense report he wrote, all the evidence he presented against Keith were false," Schneider said.
But the damage was done. Carter says Goines threatened him by saying, "I'm going to get you," while waiting for his second trial. So, he went against his attorney's advice and pleaded no contest because he was scared. Starting from that point, Carter would never be able to turn his life around. He spent the ensuing decades in and out of jail, never able to overcome legal and personal challenges.
"It was devastating," he said.
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Just last month, a trial judge agreed that Carter should never have been found guilty. His defense is hoping the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will agree.
"He lied on reports, he lied on police records, lied under oath, and lied in affidavits, and that was happening every single day that Goines was an officer in HPD Narcotics (Division)," Romy Kaplan, another attorney working on Carter's case, said. "Our hope is that he would be found and declared actually innocent because Keith is actually innocent of the crime in 1991."
It is unclear exactly how many cases are currently under review or appeal that Goines touched on during his long career at HPD. ABC13 has already interviewed several people declared innocent since the Harding Street raid in 2019.
Meanwhile, the judge is expected to rule next week on requests by Goines' lawyer to toss out the murder charges and change the venue.
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COMPLETE COVERAGE: The Harding Street raid and the fallout