Help free 35 years falsely imprisoned, and misrepresented Darius Elam
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This petition is about the wrongful conviction of Darius D. Elam in 1983. We now have proof of his innocence due to DNA tests that proved he was not at the scene of the crime. The results of this DNA test have been in since February of 2014, and yet he remains behind bars. If you have a heart at all please help in getting my dads story out to as many people as possible so that this might land in the right hands of someone who can help on a higher level. Thank you for taking the time to read this:
An inmate in the Texas state prison (my dad), Darius D. Elam, has been wrongly convicted of aggravated robbery, and has been imprisoned for over 3 decades. The particular evidence used to place him at the scene of the crime consists of a yellow sheet of paper from his writing notepad. This sheet of paper, styled as “States Exhibit No. 30”, consists of my dad’s college notes from a psychology class he was taking at Texas Southern University. At the time of his arrest the legal yellow notepad was in his possession. This sheet of paper torn from the notepad was alleged to have been found at the scene of the crime 90 days after the crime occurred. Below are the details of how everything happened wrapped in a story of corruption, injustice, and racism. I must first point out that the crime he has been charged with doesn’t even come close to justifying the extensive length of time he has spent in incarceration.
In August of 1978 my dad accepted a full scholarship to Texas Southern University, although he had received other offers to other universities, he felt that TSU would provide him the most promise for his education. Five years later is when this story takes place.
On May 6th 1983 my dad left work with a work associate (Clarence Richardson) who offered him a drive home. On the drive home, Richardson said he’d like to stop and make a purchase to break in a new credit card that he had. While Richardson was shopping he asked my dad if he wanted anything; my dad responded by saying sure, and he would reimburse him on his next pay day. When Richardson paid for everything the credit card used came up as fraudulent, stolen, and had ties to a robbery. The cops were called to the store by the store clerk, and both men were arrested on the spot. After that day it has been nothing short of a nightmare for him & our family. Clarence Richardson served 5 years for credit card fraud, and got out. I do not know if Richardson gave false information to the police for a lesser sentence, but my dad has been in prison since that day. Here are the facts that led to his conviction.
On May 7th, 1983 a deceased victim was discovered in the back seat of his own vehicle in the parking lot of Rice University. The victim had died of a gunshot wound to the head in a struggle. On this day May 7th, the investigators and forensic officers examined the crime scene, inventoried and photographed all that was present at the scene of the crime. There is no recording or photographs of a yellow sheet of notepad paper in the forensic experts’ documents. On the same day, May 7th, the forensic officers also examined the vehicle for finger prints. The officers were able to pull several finger prints from the vehicle, none of which were my dad’s finger prints. After that the vehicle was removed from the scene of the crime and taken to the Houston Police Department’s vehicle examination stall. It was there that another crime scene investigator searched the car extensively for further evidence that might not have been found by the forensic officers. The crime scene investigator made her own independent inventory list of what she found. At this point there still was no yellow sheet of notepad paper. However, it was noted and inventoried that the victims class & wedding ring was on the front passenger side floor of the car (we will get to why this is important soon). The vehicle was returned back to the victim’s family in late May of 1983, and no longer in possession of the HPD. Furthermore, this same C.S.I. officer did a supplemental police report dated June 17th 1983, and noted forensic evidence of hair was found on the victim’s items. The conclusion of the hair that was tested from the vehicle & victims clothing revealed that there was no negroid hair to be present.
On August 9th, 1983, a full 90 days after the vehicle had been examined and returned, an officer of the Houston Police Department (Leonard Lee Cooper Jr.) made an allegation that he found a yellow sheet of notepad paper on the front passenger side floor of the car (here’s why the rings stated above were so important). Clearly the C.S.I. agent could not discover something as small as two rings, but miss something as noticeable as an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of yellow paper with blood on it in the very same location as the rings were discovered. Even if the C.S.I. agent failed to record this information in writing, the pictures don’t lie. The bigger question here, is how evidence could have been discovered in the car after it was already returned to the victim’s family, and no longer in the possession of the HPD. It was alleged that this sheet of paper consisted of my dad’s right index finger and blood spatter. Now, at this point it’s pretty spelled out that this is fabricated evidence used against my father, which is a heinous criminal act committed by the HDP. However, if you look at this through the lens of 1983 Houston Texas you will find that there was a lot of corruption and racism within the HPD; almost as bad as the LAPD if not worst. The view through that lens will help to make out how something like this could lead to the wrongful imprisonment of an innocent black man for over 30 years. It’s easy to be skeptical of these types of things. My father told me that before he got incarcerated he truly believed that if someone got convicted that meant they were guilty, end of story. He believed in our justice system, he believed in America, he believed in right & wrong. Sadly, we see on the news more & more occurrences of wrongly convicted citizens, some of whom have already been sentenced to death.
On March 26th, 1984 my dad was convicted for the offense of aggravated robbery in the 232nd Judicial District Court, Harris country Texas, Cause No. 380350. Because my father was young at the time, he could not afford a high-level attorney, and was ill-advised by his public defender (Isaac Henderson) into electing sentencing from the trial court to better his chances of probation. Henderson never fought for my dad, and played a leading role in getting my dad convicted. During the trials, Henderson told my dad “I couldn’t help you even if I wanted to because I have to work with these people (meaning the prosecutors), and these people are my meal ticket!” Henderson never submitted any evidence that would have been in my dad’s favor, such as the photographs that proved there was no yellow sheet of paper or the fact that they found the gun 6 days after the crime, and it did not have my dad’s finger prints on it. Henderson also never called any witnesses to the stand to testify to my dad’s whereabouts on the day of the murder. The trial court assessed the punishment at “no less than five years, no more than life; which is actually treated as a life sentence in the Texas justice department. An insane amount of time for the conviction! There are convicted murders whom have served less time than 34 years freely walking the streets.
On December 9th 2013 my dad finally won the chance to get his DNA tested by the Houston Conviction Integrity unit. Our family was so excited that finally we would have the chance to see justice prevail! Nearly a year later on February 19th 2014 the DNA evidence came back excluding all of my dad’s DNA from the crime scene. This is a really important piece of the story because the coroner’s report concluded the victim was in a struggle with the assailant, and would have had the DNA of that assailant under their finger nails. Unfortunately for the HPD, my dad just wasn’t there! They want so bad for him to have committed this crime that they will go to any length of corruption to keep him in, but he wasn’t there! What is the HPD trying to cover up? In Texas, it is established that DNA exclusion is exculpatory evidence, and a hearing must be granted to the defendant in order to determine if the jury would make the same conclusion if they had that DNA evidence. My dad has not had his hearing to date, and is still confined in prison. Given everything I’ve said above I ask of you, the reader; take a moment and think about the last 34 years of your life. What have you done? What major things have you accomplished? What trips have you been on? What was the best meal you’ve ever had? How have you matured as person? Lastly, how many changes in society and technology have occurred since 1983? As you reflect on those things, you may find yourself seeing that 34-year timeframe through a different lens. It reads as just a number on paper, but it’s an entire lifetime! During this time my father has been denied parole on five occasions, in spite of his evidence of innocence. I ask again, what is the HPD covering up? Why hasn’t he been given his trail, which is his legal right to prove his innocence?
Now, I do have empathy for the family that lost their loved one. I understand what it feels like to lose a beloved family member, and I hope that one day that family will get justice from the real person that committed that atrocious crime. Unfortunately for the HPD, and all the other people involved in convicting him, my father just wasn’t there! My father has always maintained his innocence these past 34 years, and refuses to admit to the crime because he did not do it. My father is an innocent man, and has lost everything taking the fall for this crime. Please re-post and pass this story on to everyone you know as I’m trying to get my dad’s story to go public. (#justicefordarius) I do not know to what extent the HPD & Texas Prison System will go to in order to keep my dad’s case from surfacing and embarrassing them. But I can honestly say I am concerned for my dad’s safety at this point. Thank you!
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