Save Preston Hughes III from Texas Death Row

Dear Governor Perry and Distinguished members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole,



We the undersigned are family members, friends, and supporters of Preston Hughes III. We are petitioning you in an effort to save Preston from unjustly being put to death by the State of Texas for a crime he did not commit. His execution date has been set for November 15, 2012.



Preston Hughes III was arrested in the early morning hours on September 27, 1988, for the brutal stabbing death of Shandra Charles, age 15, and Marcell Taylor, age 3. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to die by lethal injection.  He has been on Texas Death Row since May 1989 for a crime he did not commit. 

At around 2:15 a.m. the Houston police knocked on Preston's door, came in, looked around for a few minutes, then asked Preston if he would come down to police headquarters.  In spite of the fact that the sergeant would not answer his question, "What is this all about?", Preston agreed to go because he knew he had done nothing wrong. By 6:40 a.m., after being yelled at, lied to, slapped in the face and punched in the chest, Preston, fearing for his very life, signed the last page of the sergeant's typed false confession.

Later that morning another sergeant was reviewing the false confession and noted that the murder of the little boy had not been included. The officer picked up Preston from the jailhouse and by 1:15 p.m., after the officer threatened to kill Preston, Preston involuntarily signed a second false confession.

There was no evidence collected by the Houston Police Department that tied Preston to these murders not even the knife that was seized from Preston's apartment which was tested, not in the lab, but in the courtroom before the judge, the prosecuting and defense lawyers just before the "forensic expert" was to testify. The results - positive for animal blood not human blood and the judge allowed the knife to be introduced at trial as the murder weapon.

The following is a partial list of things wrong with this case including the two false confessions above:

On September 27, 1988 at 2:58 a.m. officer turned in to the HPD property division 15 items, including 7 items from Preston's apartment, the girl's eyeglasses and a small clear plastic bag containing a green leafy substance were not among the items listed. These items showed up later in one of the officer's reports.

Voluntary Consent for Search and Seizure form was supposedly witnessed by two sergeants around 5:30 a.m., two and a half hours after officer turned in 7 items from Preston's apartment. Preston's signature was cut and pasted on this form and only a copy of this form was presented at trial. Additionally, one of the sergeants who supposedly witnessed this form, had FIRST met Preston when she was called in to witness his signing of his coerced confession after 7:00 a.m. So there is no way she could have signed this form around 5:30 a.m.



The officer who did the crime scene photos and collected the evidence including the 7 items from Preston's apartment, wrote in his report that he was contacted at 8:30 a.m. by a sergeant to go and get some clothing and a knife, the alleged murder weapon, from Preston's apartment since they now had a signed search and seizure form.  This was five and a half hours after this officer had already turned in 7 items from Preston's apartment including the knife and clothing.



Voluntary Consent for Taking Samples of Blood, Urine or Hair form was supposedly witnessed by two sergeants around 7:45 a.m. When Preston signed this form there was no place provided for any witness signatures and NO samples were ever taken.



False testimony by several police officers at trial.



Missing crime scene photos such as female's eyeglasses at the scene of the crime and bloody footprints leading to an apartment complex where the most likely suspect, Douglas Swanson, lived.



Knife introduced and admitted into evidence at trial as murder weapon tested positive for animal blood. Not human blood.



Silver rim eyeglasses belonging to female victim - Lab Report - No latent prints containing sufficient characteristics to effect an identification, but when introduced at trial as being found in between two cushions on a couch in Preston's apartment, had what appeared to be bloody spots on the eyeglasses. A witness saw the prosecuting attorney wandering around the halls of the courthouse with the eyeglasses in a plastic bag and saw him approach a woman to borrow some make-up from her and smear the make-up on the eyeglasses. These eyeglasses were obviously planted between two cushions on the couch in Preston's apartment otherwise some of this "blood" would have transferred to the cushions.



Two blue short sleeved shirts belonging to Preston - Lab Report : one shirt retained without examination. Second shirt - Blood. Not enough to determine if human blood. Not enough to type.



One pair of blue jeans belonging to Preston - Lab Report - Blood. Not enough to determine if human blood. Not enough to type. This was a very bloody crime scene.  It appears that the suspect would have literally been covered with blood.



Vaginal swab belonging to female victim - Lab Report - Very weak positive for semen - not enough to type. How could there have been semen on the swab? She was not raped. 



Bed sheet from Preston's Apartment - Removed but not logged in. Sheet was stained with fresh semen. It is possible that this semen was used to contaminate vaginal swab?



Empty Busch Beer Can - No latent prints (No DNA testing done)



Douglas Swanson - A witness saw a man fitting Swanson's description entering the crime scene area with Shandra and Marcell. He drank Busch beer and smoked Benson and Hedges cigarettes. Preston's former roommate saw bloody footprints leading from the crime scene in the direction of the apartment complex where Swanson lived. The police should have photos of these footprints but if they do they were never made available. Swanson abruptly left the Houston area soon after these murders. He did not notify his employer and left word with his cousin that if anyone asked about his whereabouts he was in California. It was later learned Swanson was living in Tyler Texas with his grandmother.
 
In 1991 Douglas Swanson was arrested and convicted of aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon. He is now serving a life sentence at Ferguson Prison in Midway, Texas.



Most of the remaining items collected at the crime scene and Preston's apartment were retained without examination. Fingernail clippings of the victims picked up from the morgue after the trial were never tested. The "forensic expert" who did the lab work was involved in the infamous Houston Crime Lab scandal and forced to retire before he was fired.

Executive clemency exists to intervene where the courts cannot. Therefore we implore you to demonstrate your respect for justice and human life by doing everything in your power to not only commute the death sentence of Preston Hughes III, but to release him with time served as he has served over 20 years for two murders he did NOT commit.



We pray that you show compassion!  We also thank you for your time and attention to this very serious matter.



For more detailed information regarding this case, please checkout the link below which includes all the police reports on this case, copies of the consent forms, copy of the HPD evidence invoice, some crime scene photos and some very interesting articles on the Houston crime lab scandal, the "forensic expert", Preston's original court-appointed lawyer, and the sergeant who coerced Preston's first confession.




http://www.mysterycrimescene.com/preston-hughes-time-recap.html

Sincerely,

The undersigned....

Dear Governor Perry and Distinguished members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole,


We the undersigned are family members, friends, and supporters of Preston Hughes III. We are petitioning you in an effort to save Preston from unjustly being put to death by the State of Texas for a crime he did not commit. His execution date has been set for November 15, 2012.


Preston Hughes III was arrested in the early morning hours on September 27, 1988, for the brutal stabbing death of Shandra Charles, age 15, and Marcell Taylor, age 3. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to die by lethal injection.  He has been on Texas Death Row since May 1989.


At around 2:15 a.m. the Houston police knocked on Preston's door, came in, looked around for a few minutes, then asked Preston if he would come down to police headquarters.  In spite of the fact that the sergeant would not answer his question, "What is this all about?", Preston agreed to go because he knew he had done nothing wrong. By 6:40 a.m., after being yelled at, lied to, slapped in the face and punched in the chest, Preston, fearing for his very life, signed the last page of the sergeant's typed false confession.

Later that morning another sergeant was reviewing the false confession and noted that the murder of the little boy had not been included. The officer pickup Preston from the jailhouse and by 1:15 p.m., after the officer threatened to kill Preston, Preston involuntarily signed a second false confession.

There was no evidence collected by the Houston Police Department that tied Preston to these murders not even the knife that was seized from Preston's apartment which was tested, not in the lab, but in the courtroom before the judge, the prosecuting and defense lawyers just before the "forensic expert" was to testify. The results - positive for animal blood not human blood and the judge allowed the knife to be introduced at trial as the murder weapon.

The following is a partial list of things wrong with this case including the two false confessions above:

On September 27, 1988 at 2:58 a.m. officer turned in to the HPD property division 15 items, including 7 items from Preston's apartment, the girl's eyeglasses and a small clear plastic bag containing a green leafy substance where not among the items listed. These items showed up later in one of the officer's reports.

Voluntary Consent for Search and Seizure form was witnessed by two sergeants around 5:30 a.m., two and a half hours after officer turned in 7 items from Preston's apartment. Preston's signature was cut and pasted on this form and only a copy of this form was presented at trial.


The officer who did the crime scene photos and collected the evidence including the 7 items from Preston's apartment, wrote in his report that he was contacted at 8:30 a.m. by a sergeant to go and get some clothing and a knife, the murder weapon, from Preston's apartment since they now had a signed search and seizure form.  This was five and a half hours after this officer had already turned in 7 items from Preston's apartment including the knife and clothing.


Voluntary Consent for Taking Samples of Blood, Urine or Hair form was witnessed by two sergeants around 7:45 a.m. Preston did sign this form but NO samples were ever taken.


False testimony by several police officers at trial.



Missing crime scene photos such as female's eyeglasses at the scene of the crime and bloody footprints leading to an apartment complex where the most likely suspect, Douglas Swanson, lived.


Knife introduced at trial as murder weapon tested positive for animal blood. Not human blood.


Silver rim eyeglasses belonging to female victim - Lab Report - No latent prints containing sufficient characteristics to effect an identification, but when introduced at trial as being found in between two cushions on a couch in Preston's apartment, had what appeared to be bloody spots on the eyeglasses. A witness saw the prosecuting attorney wandering around the halls of the courthouse with the eyeglasses in a plastic bag and saw him approach a woman to borrow some make-up from her and smear the make-up on the eyeglasses. These eyeglasses were obviously planted between two cushions on the couch in Preston's apartment otherwise some of this "blood" would have transferred to the cushions.


Two blue short sleeved shirts belonging to Preston - Lab Report: one shirt retained without examination. Second shirt - Blood. Not enough to determine if human blood. Not enough to type.


One pair of blue jeans belonging to Preston - Lab Report - Blood. Not enough to determine if human blood. Not enough to type. This was a very bloody crime scene.  It appears that the suspect would have literally been covered with blood.


Vaginal swab belonging to female victim - Lab Report - Very weak positive for semen - not enough to type. How could there have been semen on the swab? She was not raped. 


Bed sheet from Preston's Apartment - Removed but not logged in. Sheet was stained with fresh semen. It is possible that this semen was used to contaminate vaginal swab.


Empty Busch Beer Can - No latent prints (No DNA testing done)


Douglas Swanson - A witness saw a man fitting Swanson's description entering the crime scene area with Shandra and Marcell. He drank Busch beer and smoked Benson and Hedges cigarettes. Preston's former roommate saw bloody footprints leading from the crime scene in the direction of the apartment complex where Swanson lived. The police should have photos of these footprints but if they do they were never made available. Swanson abruptly left the Houston area soon after these murders. He did not notify his employer and left word with his cousin that if anyone asked about his whereabouts he was in California. It was later learned Swanson was living in Tyler Texas with his grandmother.
 
In 1991 Douglas Swanson was arrested and convicted of aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon. He is now serving a life sentence at Ferguson Prison in Midway, Texas.


Most of the remaining items collected at the crime scene and Preston's apartment were retained without examination. Fingernail clippings of the victims picked up from the morgue after the trial where never tested. The "forensic expert" who did the lab work was involved in the infamous Houston Crime Lab scandal and forced to retire before he was fired.

Executive clemency exists to intervene where the courts cannot. Therefore we implore you to demonstrate your respect for justice and human life by doing everything in your power to not only commute the death sentence of Preston Hughes III, but to release him with time served as he has served over 20 years for two murders he did NOT commit.


We pray that you show compassion!  We also thank you for your time and attention to this very serious matter.


For more detailed information regarding this case, please checkout the link below which includes all the police reports on this case, copies of the consent forms, copy of the HPD evidence invoice, some crime scene photos and some very interesting articles on the Houston crime lab scandal, the "forensic expert", Preston's original court-appointed lawyer, and the sergeant who coerced Preston's first confession.


http://www.mysterycrimescene.com/preston-hughes-time-recap.html

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