Would a new state commission finally keep us from throwing innocents in prison?
Published: March 13, 2013
Months later Haygood filed a motion for a new trial when local inmate Lucas Huckleberry came forward claiming a fellow inmate, Sean Jones, told him he knew Haygood wasn't the shooter.
Huckleberry testified that he and Jones were watching TV at the Bexar County jail when news broke of Haygood's murder conviction. Jones, Huckleberry claimed, told him that he was on the scene and saw a friend shoot Brown that night.
At a hearing, Jones invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions, and Haygood's motion for a new trial was denied. The case bounced between federal and state courts for years until, in 2006, a federal judge ordered the state to hold a hearing to determine the legitimacy and scope of Jones' Fifth Amendment privilege, says Haygood's appeals attorney Julie Pollock.
At that hearing, the sole witness, Alvarado, admitted that Jones looked more like the shooter than Haygood. Alvarado also testified that Huckleberry, the inmate who heard Jones' jailhouse confession, provided details of the murder that had never been publicly revealed. Alvarado was convinced that Haygood wasn't the shooter.
"This was a one-eyewitness case," Pollock said. "The conviction hinged on that sole eyewitness … And, of course, eyewitness testimony is notoriously bad."
State District Judge Maria Teresa Herr ordered Haygood's conviction overturned in late 2009. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld Herr's decision nearly a year later. By March 2011, the Bexar County DA's office officially dropped charges and Haygood was released.
"Twelve years is a long time to be gone for something you didn't do," Carla Haygood, Andre's wife, told the Current last week.
Andre was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder shortly after his release from prison, she said. "We both knew he wasn't adapting well," Carla said. "Being in prison that long, there were definitely parts of him that changed for the worse. … He was leery of people, sort of paranoid."
Tensions boiled over on November 20, 2011, just months after Haygood was exonerated. Called out for a domestic disturbance, a police report states officers found Haygood bleeding heavily in his driveway. They found Carla carrying her 7-month-old son and two knives, mumbling about how Andre had violently erupted, believing she'd cheated on him. Andre held her hostage, threatened and beat her much of that morning, Carla told police.
Haygood was convicted of assault, and is currently serving an 8-year sentence. "I really believe that previous incarceration, being in prison for something you didn't do, Andre wasn't able to get over that," Carla said. "I blame a lot of his behavior on that."
University of Texas-Arlington social work professor Jaimie Page, director of the Dallas-based Texas Exoneree Project, told a House committee last week that many exonerees face lasting psychological problems because of their long, unwarranted prison stints, saying studies show "the PTSD associated with wrongful convictions is equivalent to people who have served in wartime combat."
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