1997 murder conviction under review after corrupt DEA agent convicted of perjury

Who pulled the trigger?

HOUSTON – The conviction of a former Drug Enforcement Administration Agent has raised new questions about a decades-old homicide case in Houston.  

Lamar Burks, 46, was convicted of murder in 2000, accused in the June 1997 shooting death of Earl Perry.  While Burks has maintained his innocence, he lost two appeals. However, recent allegations of coercion, as well as newly uncovered evidence, has Burks' legal team pushing for the case to be revisited, if not overturned. 

What happened?

It was a crime scene strewn about the parking lot of a late-night eatery on Cavalcade Street in Houston's Fifth Ward. Earl Perry, then 28 years old, was shot to death. Perry's body lay in the corner of the parking lot of what was T's Restaurant, located on the 3800 block of Cavalcade Street. Witnesses on scene told Houston police a dice game resulted in a commotion, leading to gunfire.

Perry was shot three times, according to his autopsy report.

The fatal blow was to his back. Investigators recovered one die next to his body. Prosecutors initially charged Burks in connection with Perry's murder in 1998, although that charge was dropped after the sole witness recanted – claiming it was a case of mistaken identity.

Burks' apparent freedom wouldn't last, however. He was reindicted in 2000 after a new witness, Randy Lewis, came forward, testifying Burks was the gunman to a grand jury.

Both Burks and a man named Derevin Whitaker were charged in Perry's death, although the charge against Whitaker would soon be dismissed. Burks was tried and found guilty. A second man, Clayton Brown, was found guilty, as well. Brown served a five-year sentence.  

Nineteen years later, both Brown and Lewis have said Lamar Burks was not the gunman and was not at the scene of the crime on June 30, 1997. Burks has maintained his innocence, insisting he was in Opelousas, Louisiana for his sister's wedding the week of the murder.  His legal says phone records and a photograph of Burks at the wedding corroborate his claim.

Set up?

At the center of the investigation were two DEA agents – Chad Scott and Jack Schumacher.  A federal jury convicted Scott on seven counts in August. Scott is accused of perjury, obstruction of justice and falsifying government records, among other allegations. The charges stem from Scott's work as a DEA agent in Louisiana after he was transferred out of the Houston area.

Burks' alleges Scott is guilty of the same in his case – and both Lewis and Brown now allege Scott coerced them into providing false statements, court documents said.

Harris County District Attorney: Burks' conviction valid

In a statement to KPRC2, Dane Schiller, spokesman for Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. "We have no reason to doubt the integrity of Burks' conviction.

"An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for next month, and we will make our position know to the court at that time."

READ: A timeline of events and statements string together the case and allegations of corruption 

Lamar Burks
Lamar Burks
KPRC 2 interviews Clayton Brown.
KPRC 2 interviews Clayton Brown.
KPRC 2's interview with Burks from prison.
KPRC 2's interview with Burks from prison.

About the Author:

Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.