59ºF

Judge does not rule during Goines’ detention hearing in Harding Street case

HOUSTON – One of the former Houston Police Officers charged in connection with the botched raid on Harding Street appeared in federal court Friday for an arraignment and detention hearing.

Gerald Goines was arrested Wednesday on multiple federal charges.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena Palermo ended Friday’s hearing by saying she would issue a decision based on the evidence presented. It was unclear when that decision would be rendered as of Friday evening. Goines remained behind bars Monday but is expected to be bonded out on Tuesday.

It may come Monday, KPRC2 has learned.

During Goines detention hearing Friday, FBI Special Agent O’Neil Brown testified about the investigation.

According to Brown, Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas were not determined to be drug dealers, although a small amount of cocaine and marijuana were found inside the home after the raid.

The FBI interviewed the judge who signed off on the no-knock warrant, who told Brown he thought Goines was being truthful and that the account from Goines’ criminal informant was probable cause for the issuance of the warrant, Brown said.

According to warrant, the informant claimed there was heroin and a 9mm gun inside the home and the judge told him he would not have signed the warrant without that info.

Brown said HPD and the FBI interviewed all five informants who were overseen by Goines and they all said they did not purchase drugs from the Harding Street home and they had not been to that address.

Brown's testimony brought forward new revelations about the investigation into Goines' alleged activities. He testified Goines was involved in a sexual relationship with one of his confidential informants. That's the same confidential informant who told investigators the drugs Goines said were purchased from 7815 Harding Street came from a different address -- one unrelated to Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas, Brown testified. Brown also said investigators uncovered a stolen gun in Goines' unmarked HPD unit and various illegal drugs, including cocaine, and ecstasy.

The government argued Brown's testimony proved Goines lied repeatedly to get what he wanted -- evidence prosecutors argued confirmed he would continue to do if granted bond.

Goines' attorney said the government did not prove its case that Goines was a danger to society or a flight risk with Brown's testimony.

"It's clear to me from everything that we know and everything that was presented in court today that Mr. Goines is guaranteed to return to court when asked to do so and he is absolutely safe," said Nicole Deborde, Goines' defense attorney.

Deborde also cross-examined Brown on the depth of his knowledge of no knock warrants, confidential informants, as well as the extent to which he had experience with police work. Brown testified prior to working for the FBI he was an attorney and never worked as a police officer.

Five witnesses testified on Goines' behalf, including Elyse Lanier, widow of former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier. Goines has provided security detail for the Lanier's for years.

"He works for my whole family. We love him. We support him. We are here with him," Lanier said, addressing reporters following the detention hearing.

Arguing whether bond should be granted is a tough task in federal court, as opposed to state court where Goines remains on a $300 thousand bond.

"In federal court the defendant seeking release on bond is sometimes a two to three touchdown underdog because the presumption against release essentially puts the burden on the defendant," explained Brian Wice, KPRC2 legal analyst.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Goines falsified evidence and obstructed justice related to the January raid that left Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas dead.

He is accused of entering the Harding Street home on fake intel and making a false police report, claiming an informant bought drugs from the home one day before the raid.

Goines’ attorney said she and her team are ready to fight for Goines.

"We are looking forward to vigorously defending Mr. Goines in state court and in federal court."

Another former officer Steven Bryant and civilian Patricia Garcia are also facing federal charges in connection with the case.

Goines is also facing two counts of felony murder on the state level.

If convicted of his federal charges, Goines is facing up to life in prison.