HOUSTON, TX — (KPRC) Dozens of criminal cases have been dismissed and hundreds more are in jeopardy after a Texas constable destroyed an estimated 21,500 pieces of evidence after being ordered to “clean up” a property locker.
The evidence was collected from 2007 to present.
The deputy had been with the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office for 14 years. Constable Mark Herman confirmed to Channel 2 that he fired the deputy for violating policy.
In January, the deputy was told to “clean out” the property room because it was getting full, but evidence connected to current cases that needed to be preserved was destroyed instead of just old evidence.
Herman said he immediately notified the DA’s Office when he discovered the evidence had been destroyed. He said the DA’s office then told him Hess was already under investigation.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson told KPRC that 142 cases have been dismissed because of this mistake and more than 1,000 more cases are pending.
“I’ve asked the prosecutors in each court to evaluate those cases, one by one, to see what evidence was destroyed, and is there any left to go forward,” Anderson said. “If there’s any left to go forward, we will.”
Anderson also said that an investigation to find who destroyed the evidence and why they did it is underway.
“I think every law enforcement agency knows they are the keepers of the evidence,” she said. “We have to have evidence to prosecute cases successfully.”
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