Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Case of Preston Hughes III: The 99 Cent Coin

From "Dateless Amigo", another fine episode of Married with Children:
Marcy: Steve, don't tell them about your insane quest to create a 99 cent coin. 
Steve: Al, I invented the 99 cent coin. Have you ever noticed how things cost $7.99?  $14.99?  $99.99?  My coin will eliminate the messy change that only catches the attention of obnoxious beggars who hassle you on the way to your Mercedes. Think of it, Al. Anything you want, you just plunk down the old number 99. It's a plan without flaws. 
Al. What about tax? 
Steve; You sound just like those fools at the Treasury Department. 
Shandra Charles didn't have any change on her person when she was discovered dying in that dark, overgrown field. She did have five one-dollar bills and one five-dollar bill in her pocket, but she had no change.

It took me far too long to realize this, but the lack of change argues against any suggestion she was in that field because she was returning from Fuddrucker's. If she had recently purchased anything from Fuddrucker's, or from the Stop N Go, or from anywhere, she would have had some change in her pockets. Instead she had five ones and one five.


I was recently speaking with someone who lived in the area at the time, someone who knows some of the individuals involved in the case. I'll refer to that person simply as Source. According to rumors Source had heard, Shandra was there that night to purchase marijuana for a third party. (I choose to withhold the name of that third party.) Since that rumor matched my raw speculation regarding Shandra's purpose of being in that field so late at night, I necessarily gave the rumor more credence than I would have otherwise. Nonetheless, I would not be writing this post based on hearing of that rumor alone. Something else triggered this post.

Source was not familiar with the details in the police reports. I asked about anyone nicknamed Dog. Nothing. I asked about the phone number associated with "Dog." Nada. Zip.

I mentioned to Source that the nickname and the phone number were found on a note in Shandra's pocket, along with five ones and one five. Source said: "See. Whadda I say? Dime bag."

Duh, with a bullet.

Source then begin to explain the meaning of dime bag. I explained that I already knew, that I was just too slow and too square to have made the association on my own.

For those of you even less streetwise than I, I offer the following definitions of dime bag from The Urban Dictionary.
1. Also known as a demon. Approximately $10 worth of weed, depending on how good the shit is. 
2. 'Dime Bag' is a general term for $10 worth of weed. Back in the day, a Quarter Ounce (7 grams) cost only $10. An eighth cost only $5, hence the terms nickel bag and dime bag. Some circles still refer to a Quarter Ounce as a dime bag. 
3. A little bag also filled with $10 of marijuana.
Someone was kind enough to post a picture.

Officer Hale also took a photograph of some "green leafy substance" found (not planted, found) in Preston's apartment.

The crime lab could have probably lifted prints off that bag, but they never reported any effort to do so. In fact, that item did not even appear in their evidence invoice, though Officer Hale claimed he collected it and maintained control of it until it was tagged into the property room.
On the dining room table was a maroon pullover shirt, a clear plastic bag containing green leafy substance. 
At this time I photographed the inside of the apartment. 
Evidence recovered inside Apartment 138A, (suspect's apartment)
(1) small clear plastic bag, containing a green leafy substance recovered on the dining room table in plain view. The plastic bag was recovered and placed inside a clear plastic bag and kept in officer's care, control and custody until tagged in the police property room.
Despite Officer Hale's assurance, the green leafy substance never seemed to have made it to the property room, at least not by 2:58 AM when the other items were tagged in (three hours before the HPD allegedly obtained a voluntary Consent to Search form).

Hughes claims the marijuana was planted, just as the eyeglasses were planted. For reasons detailed in Documents Gone Wild, I'm tending to believe him. 

The subject of marijuana makes another appearance in this story. Hughes claims the police told him they discovered marijuana on Shandra's person. They allegedly told him this as they were threatening to kill him if he did not confess.
I don't believe your story. We found marijuana on the girl, and we found a bag in your apartment. I believe you were with the two kids before you stabbed them. What did you do, trade some marijuana for a piece of young tight pussy? Come on you can tell me the truth. I know how you people are trading drugs for sex. You're going to give another statement to my partner, Sgt. Ferguson when he come in this room. If you don't I'm going to kill you because I have kids and I have nightmares of someone like you coming after them. Or hell, I'll just beat your ass all over this room and put you in Ben Taub. I'm sure they'll love to have and treat another patient. And who do you think the judge will believe, a piece of shit like you or me, a police officer? Now do I make myself clear?

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Anonymous said...

Did the prosecution in the case make anything of the location? Was it crucial to why they think Preston did it?

We don't know why she was there. There are several possible reasons and we don't know and can't eliminate them. And actually if she had been at Fuddrackers and then was heading to the apartments it would have helped Preston's case.

The defense should have independently finger printed the marijuana and the beer can. They should have also subpoened the phoned records for the number listed.


tsj said...

Sure the defense should have done that and a lot more. They shouldn't have to of course, since the labs are supposed to be unbiased. And Preston would have had to pay for all that if the Judge refused to authorize funds.

But the defense didn't do any of that, and Preston sits on death row. And the appellate courts will rule that Preston can't appeal on any of that, because that was simply defense strategy. And the same courts will rule that Preston's counsel was not ineffective.

Both the State and Preston's defense team did a terrible, terrible job investigating this case. They all got paid handsomely, nonetheless. Preston on the other hand is expected to pay, and pay with his life.

This sucks.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say they were paid handsomely since I would wage it's the public defender on one side and the other side was mid grade detectives. If Preston had Johnny Cochran on his side....

As far as where it will go, I think Preston has one legal option. Declaring the evidence found at his house as null and void since it was acquired prior to his consent according to the police report.


tsj said...

Not going to happen. Even if Hughes was granted an appeal based on the falsified document (unlikely), the appellate court would almost certainly declare either 1) no error at all or 2) harmless error.

Consider the case of Cesar Fierro. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed that the police extracted Fierro's confession under duress. The EL Paso police threatened to have Fierro's parents further tortured by the Mexican police, who had taken Fierro's parents into custody. The TCCA found also that the police perjured themselves during Fierro's trial.

The result?

You guessed it. (At least I hope you did.)

Harmless error.

Anonymous said...

Your right and I'm thinking that the because it's so late in the game that the argument will be mute because they'll argue that he should have brought it up earlier. He's left with the last defense really then. Since his defenders believe the guy that is guilty is in jail, they need to get him to confess.


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