Murder charges for couple killed in botched 2019 no-knock raid reinstated against HPD officer

Rosie Nguyen Image
Thursday, April 4, 2024
Murder charges reinstated against HPD officer who led 2019 raid
Disgraced HPD officer Gerald Goines from the 2019 botched Harding raid is again charged with murder for deaths of Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The trial for a disgraced former Houston Police Department officer is back on, just eight days after a judge dismissed the two felony counts of murder against him for a botched no-knock raid five years ago.

It happened on Jan. 28, 2019, with a fake 911 call that resulted in a no-knock warrant by HPD's narcotics squad. The Harding Street raid left Dennis Tuttle, Rhogena Nicholas, and their dog dead from a rain of police gunfire in their own Pecan Park home.

Prosecutors claim Gerald Goines, who was the lead case agent, lied about drug activity to obtain the warrant and charged him for the couple's murders.

Last Tuesday, Judge Veronica Nelson dismissed the indictments after defense attorneys argued the indictments were poorly written. According to the Houston Chronicle, Goines' legal team argued that the original indictments, which used tampering with a government record as the underlying felony, were flawed and unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg confirmed a grand jury ruled to reindict Goines.

"We feel confident that Gerald Goines will be brought to justice and that the victims in this case will finally have their story told," Ogg said.

SEE MORE: 91 more Gerald Goines drug convictions being investigated by district attorney

Goines' defense attorney, Nicole DeBorde Hochglaube, said this was not an unexpected move by the district attorney's office. She added that they would either appeal the judge's ruling or take the cases to a new grand jury for indictment.

DeBorde Hochglaube has yet to receive a copy of the new indictments but said she may return to the judge to rechallenge them.

"These are novel legal efforts being made by the district attorney's office, which require a great deal of scrutiny. So, it's really important that we take every precaution to make sure that the constitutional rules and protections are in place as this case moves forward," DeBorde Hochglaube said.

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

The back and forth in the murder cases of Nicholas and her husband, Tuttle, has been weighing heavily on her family, according to their attorney, Mike Doyle. They also have a pending civil lawsuit against Goines.

"Every delay is pain, and it hurts because they're fighting. They're never going to stop fighting. But it's incredibly difficult with all the starts and stops," Doyle said. "This is long overdue. This should have been tried years ago. The hope is that there will finally be some justice in the criminal proceedings."

SEE MORE: Disgraced officer in court as man he arrested 32 years ago continues to fight for his innocence

Murray Newman, the president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, explained that the process of reindictment doesn't substantially lengthen the time of legal proceedings and that there is no limit on how many times someone can be reindicted. Newman is not involved in this case.

"It's a pretty common phenomenon where you will see prosecutors reindict a case even if there was an error or lack of specificity," Newman said. "This isn't a situation where they're having to start the case all over. This is just fixing the wording of an indictment."

Goines will be re-arraigned in the coming days as a formality. He continues to face six other charges in Harris County related to the raid and federal civil rights charges. The trial is scheduled for June.

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