Central Texas man savors first taste of freedom in 10 years

George Powell III was booked into the Bell County Jail just after 10 a.m. Monday. (Jail photo)
George Powell III was booked into the Bell County Jail just after 10 a.m. Monday. (Jail photo)(KWTX)
Published: Sep. 25, 2019 at 2:42 PM CDT
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A Central Texas man was released on bond Wednesday evening after spending a decade in prison for an armed robbery he insists he didn’t commit.

George Powell III, whose aggravated robbery conviction was overturned earlier this summer, was released after a state district judge earlier in the day reduced his bond from $500,000 to $150,000.

He’ll be required to wear an ankle monitor as a condition of his release.

He was released on his own recognizance and left the Bell County Jail just after 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Powell was transferred on Sept. 16 from a state prison unit in Gatesville to the Bell County Jail after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied his motion for a rehearing on an innocence claim last Wednesday.

Powell was sentenced to 28 years in prison in 2009 for an armed holdup in June 2008 at a 7-Eleven store in Killeen, a robbery he insists he did not commit.

In overturning the conviction in June, the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that prosecutors failed to disclose to Powell’s attorney that a jailhouse informant who testified against Powell had been told his testimony “would be taken into consideration in disposition on his own pending charges.”

The court ruled that the informant’s statement during the trial that he hadn’t made a deal in exchange for his testimony that Powell had confessed to the robbery was false and that “the state failed to correct such testimony.”

The former cellmate recanted his testimony in 2016.

Powell, who’s 6-foot 3, and his supporters argue that the person who actually robbed the store was around 5-foot-7 and in 2016 the Texas Forensic Science Commission took a look at the case and found faults with the state expert’s opinion, specifically on the height of the man shown in a store surveillance video of the holdup.