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Botched police work? Man serving 20-year sentence to be released after overturned burglary conviction

Adrienne August to be released this week after serving two of his 20-year sentence for burglary. Courts cite body cam video not used during his trial.

WALLER COUNTY, Texas — A Houston man sentenced to 20 years in prison for a burglary in 2017 will be released this week after the 14th Court of Appeals overturned his conviction.

Adrienne August, 26, is scheduled to be released on Wednesday.

In 2017, a witness called 911 to report a burglary in progress. He said three men had broken into his neighbor’s apartment.

Mandy Miller, August’s applet lawyer, explained that the witness told police that he didn’t have his glasses and so wouldn’t be able to identify the suspects.

However, three men were presented to him in handcuffs.

Those men, including August, had been pulled over for a traffic violation down the road. When they were brought to the witness, he said he recognized one of the suspect’s jeans.

“Not by their face or any of their tattoos … he just said that the jeans that one of them was wearing was similar to a pair that he saw,” said Miller.

“They bring them in handcuffs … they have spotlights on them … they are surrounded by police officers; these are suggestive procedures.”

The court of appeals agreed that this was not proper procedure and that evidence should have been suppressed from the trial.

Miller also brought the police bodycam videos to light. She says, during the traffic stop, you can hear the burglar in progress call come over the radio. This video wasn’t used in the first trial.

“If the burglary is in progress, they certainly couldn’t have been these gentlemen, who are already detained for at least 12 minutes.”

The Court also addressed this in their opinion on page 14:

“…all the video evidence in the record shows the same thing: that when the burglary call for Apartment 104-A was issued through dispatch, Appellant already had been detained on the side of the road by Officer Khan for at least fifteen minutes. Further, toward the end of the first dashcam video (at the end of the traffic stop, when nearly twenty-five minutes had elapsed since the dispatch call came across the police radio), Officer Khan and Officer Ruiz allow Appellant and the other passenger to walk away and they are seen on the video walking in the opposite direction of the complex. The video then shows, in an unbroken timeline, Officer 15 Ruiz driving around the corner to the location of the burglary.”

Adrienne August hasn’t been exonerated, the courts recommended another trial. However, the Waller County DA’s Office dismissed the case even though they maintain they got the right guys the first time.

“The totality of the evidence continues to support that the correct individuals were arrested, charged and indicted for the 2017 Burglary of a Habitation offense.  This conclusion is further supported by the fact that both of the defendant’s co-defendants judicially confessed to committing the offense.  In addition, one of his co-defendant’s swore under penalty of perjury that he committed the offense with the defendant and the other charged co-defendant.”

Read the full opinion below:

“The Court of Appeals determined that law enforcement utilized an improper identification procedure and ruled that the complainant’s identification of the defendant was not admissible at trial.  Due to the Court’s suppression of evidence, the State no longer has sufficient evidence to meet our burden of proof at trial.  Dismissal of the case was the appropriate action under the circumstances.”

Miller believes the two other defendants confessed to the burglary in exchange for shorter sentences; two and four years.

August does have a criminal history which includes felonies and misdemeanors, which his mother, Yolanda Branford and Miller believe was considered during the burglary conviction.

“He did some wrong in the past but he did not do this,” said Branford, “and he did not deserve 20 years. He looked me in my eyes and he said, ‘Mom, I did not do this.’ I believed him.”

“This is not how the criminal justice system works,” said Miller. "We have rules in place.”

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