The Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office in Texas destroyed more than 20,000 pieces of evidence, forcing the District Attorney's office to dismiss nearly 150 pending criminal cases and potentially endangering more than 1,000 others, District Attorney Devon Anderson said Friday.
"It will make me sick if we have to dismiss a violent case because of this. It will make me ill if we have to do that," a frustrated Anderson said in a midday news conference. "That's why we are asking the prosecutors to try to resurrect these cases as best they can."
The revelations brought new light to a Precinct 4 evidence room scandal which developed after deputy constables destroyed the evidence from pending cases while trying to clean out the property room, reports the Houston Chronicle.
In August, the DA's office said that it had dismissed at least 90 cases related to the evidence purge and was joining defense attorneys in seeking a new trial for a defendant who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in several Precinct 4 drug cases.
"This is just a critical part of law enforcement, maintaining the evidence," Anderson said, explaining that she asked Constable Mark Herman to hire an independent auditor to examine his evidence room to try to ascertain the total number of affected cases after the department kept supplying the DA's office with different lists of cases with destroyed evidence. The DA's Public Integrity Division has also been investigating the issue since February, she said, adding that criminal charges could be filed after its conclusion.