In 1985 there was an altercation at a night club at closing time which resulted in the shooting death of an individual involved in an altercation in the parking lot. One of the off-duty officers fought with the shooter before he managed to get into a vehicle and drive from the scene. The officers identified the driver associated with the vehicle, and when interviewed he informed them he knew the shooter’s name.
The officers were able to verify the full name of the alleged shooter by work records, which showed the shooter’s date of birth and social security number. The records also indicated that the shooter was from the State of Ohio. The scene witnesses stated that the shooter had a scar down the entire left side of his face and across his chin. The homicide detectives were also able to obtain what they believed to be the shooter’s fingerprints from the getaway vehicle. The case lay dormant for over 30 years.
In 2016 the Cold Case detectives ran the shooter’s name, date of birth and Social Security number and identified our client, the defendant, with a good address in the State of Ohio. He was subsequently charged and extradited to Texas.
Gradoni & Associates Investigates
Our client had been arrested many years ago and the detectives learned that the prints believed to be the shooter’s, on the getaway vehicle, did not belong to our client. Our client also did not have the scar on his face detailed by more than one witness at the scene.
The client claimed that he had never been in the State of Texas, either working or visiting. Polly Korzekwa, our research analyst, conducted a number of database searches which supported the defendant’s address history.
We were able to identify and locate the individual who drove the getaway car and identify the shooter’s name, now living in Ohio. Jose Arreola interviewed the witness, who advised he had recently been shown a photo spread by homicide detectives, who had traveled to his residence in Ohio, and he informed them that the shooter was not in the photo spread, since none of the individuals possessed the scar he knew the shooter to have on his face.
It had been our belief that someone from Ohio had taken the shooter’s identifying information and utilized it when they came to Texas to find employment. We also located the owner of the car, who claimed he knew the shooter only by the nickname of “Stash”. This witness stated that he did not know the shooter’s legal name, but verified the existence of the scar on his face.
Our entire investigation, which had been handled by Investigator Jose Arreola, was turned over to the prosecutor with the hopes that the State would understand they had charged the wrong suspect.
The case was recently dismissed and highlighted in a news article that stated a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office acknowledged the police got it wrong and that a man with a similar name and birth date to the defendant’s was initially identified as a suspect; stating that the case was reexamined after Kim Ogg took office in January. The article went on to say it appeared further, after their investigation, that the defendant had been with his wife in Ohio for over 43 years and had never been to the State of Texas.
Result of Investigation: Case Dismissed, Mistaken Identity