Killeen: Inmate who won new trial in robbery could be transferred soon

George Powell. (Jail photo)
George Powell. (Jail photo)(KWTX)
Published: Sep. 12, 2019 at 4:00 PM CDT
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George Powell III, whose aggravated robbery conviction was overturned earlier this summer could be transferred to Bell County custody soon after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied his motion for a rehearing on an innocence claim 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.

After he’s returned to Bell County, he could be released on bond.

“It’s my hope that we can get George released any day now,” said his attorney, Mike Ware, the executive director of the Innocence Project of Texas.

“We are going to ask for a hearing to disqualify the (Bell County district attorney) and hopefully we will get an honorable, experienced, and fair-minded special prosecutor,” Ware said.

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.

Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza said his office now awaits Powell’s return to the county.

“Any legal matters will be presented before the court and we are prepared to address them and move forward on the case at the appropriate time,” he said.

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.