Dear Governor Perry and Distinguished members of the Texas Board of
Pardons and Parole,
We the undersigned are family members, friends, and supporters of
Preston Hughes III. We are petitioning you in an effort to save
Preston from unjustly being put to death by the State of Texas for a
crime he did not commit. His execution date has been set for November
Preston Hughes III was arrested in the early morning hours on
September 27, 1988, for the brutal stabbing death of Shandra Charles,
age 15, and Marcell Taylor, age 3. He was tried, convicted and
sentenced to die by lethal injection. He has been on Texas Death Row
since May 1989 for a crime he did not commit.
At around 2:15 a.m. the Houston police knocked on Preston's door, came
in, looked around for a few minutes, then asked Preston if he would
come down to police headquarters. In spite of the fact that the
sergeant would not answer his question, "What is this all
about?", Preston agreed to go because he knew he had done nothing
wrong. By 6:40 a.m., after being yelled at, lied to, slapped in the
face and punched in the chest, Preston, fearing for his very life,
signed the last page of the sergeant's typed false confession.
Later that morning another sergeant was reviewing the false confession
and noted that the murder of the little boy had not been included. The
officer picked up Preston from the jailhouse and by 1:15 p.m., after
the officer threatened to kill Preston, Preston involuntarily signed a
second false confession.
There was no evidence collected by the Houston Police Department that
tied Preston to these murders not even the knife that was seized from
Preston's apartment which was tested, not in the lab, but in the
courtroom before the judge, the prosecuting and defense lawyers just
before the "forensic expert" was to testify. The results -
positive for animal blood not human blood and the judge allowed the
knife to be introduced at trial as the murder weapon.
The following is a partial list of things wrong with this case
including the two false confessions above:
On September 27, 1988 at 2:58 a.m. officer turned in to the HPD
property division 15 items, including 7 items from Preston's
apartment, the girl's eyeglasses and a small clear plastic bag
containing a green leafy substance were not among the items listed.
These items showed up later in one of the officer's reports.
Voluntary Consent for Search and Seizure form was supposedly witnessed
by two sergeants around 5:30 a.m., two and a half hours after officer
turned in 7 items from Preston's apartment. Preston's signature was
cut and pasted on this form and only a copy of this form was presented
at trial. Additionally, one of the sergeants who supposedly witnessed
this form, had FIRST met Preston when she was called in to witness his
signing of his coerced confession after 7:00 a.m. So there is no way
she could have signed this form around 5:30 a.m.
The officer who did the crime scene photos and collected the evidence
including the 7 items from Preston's apartment, wrote in his report
that he was contacted at 8:30 a.m. by a sergeant to go and get some
clothing and a knife, the alleged murder weapon, from Preston's
apartment since they now had a signed search and seizure form. This
was five and a half hours after this officer had already turned in 7
items from Preston's apartment including the knife and clothing.
Voluntary Consent for Taking Samples of Blood, Urine or Hair form was
supposedly witnessed by two sergeants around 7:45 a.m. When Preston
signed this form there was no place provided for any witness
signatures and NO samples were ever taken.
False testimony by several police officers at trial.
Missing crime scene photos such as female's eyeglasses at the scene of
the crime and bloody footprints leading to an apartment complex where
the most likely suspect, Douglas Swanson, lived.
Knife introduced and admitted into evidence at trial as murder weapon
tested positive for animal blood. Not human blood.
Silver rim eyeglasses belonging to female victim - Lab Report - No
latent prints containing sufficient characteristics to effect an
identification, but when introduced at trial as being found in between
two cushions on a couch in Preston's apartment, had what appeared to
be bloody spots on the eyeglasses. A witness saw the prosecuting
attorney wandering around the halls of the courthouse with the
eyeglasses in a plastic bag and saw him approach a woman to borrow
some make-up from her and smear the make-up on the eyeglasses. These
eyeglasses were obviously planted between two cushions on the couch in
Preston's apartment otherwise some of this "blood" would
have transferred to the cushions.
Two blue short sleeved shirts belonging to Preston - Lab Report : one
shirt retained without examination. Second shirt - Blood. Not enough
to determine if human blood. Not enough to type.
One pair of blue jeans belonging to Preston - Lab Report - Blood. Not
enough to determine if human blood. Not enough to type. This was a
very bloody crime scene. It appears that the suspect would have
literally been covered with blood.
Vaginal swab belonging to female victim - Lab Report - Very weak
positive for semen - not enough to type. How could there have been
semen on the swab? She was not raped.
Bed sheet from Preston's Apartment - Removed but not logged in. Sheet
was stained with fresh semen. It is possible that this semen was used
to contaminate vaginal swab?
Empty Busch Beer Can - No latent prints (No DNA testing done)
Douglas Swanson - A witness saw a man fitting Swanson's description
entering the crime scene area with Shandra and Marcell. He drank Busch
beer and smoked Benson and Hedges cigarettes. Preston's former
roommate saw bloody footprints leading from the crime scene in the
direction of the apartment complex where Swanson lived. The police
should have photos of these footprints but if they do they were never
made available. Swanson abruptly left the Houston area soon after
these murders. He did not notify his employer and left word with his
cousin that if anyone asked about his whereabouts he was in
California. It was later learned Swanson was living in Tyler Texas
with his grandmother.
In 1991 Douglas Swanson was arrested and convicted of aggravated
sexual assault with a deadly weapon. He is now serving a life sentence
at Ferguson Prison in Midway, Texas.
Most of the remaining items collected at the crime scene and Preston's
apartment were retained without examination. Fingernail clippings of
the victims picked up from the morgue after the trial were never
tested. The "forensic expert" who did the lab work was
involved in the infamous Houston Crime Lab scandal and forced to
retire before he was fired.
Executive clemency exists to intervene where the courts cannot.
Therefore we implore you to demonstrate your respect for justice and
human life by doing everything in your power to not only commute the
death sentence of Preston Hughes III, but to release him with time
served as he has served over 20 years for two murders he did NOT
We pray that you show compassion! We also thank you for your time and
attention to this very serious matter.
For more detailed information regarding this case, please checkout the
link below which includes all the police reports on this case, copies
of the consent forms, copy of the HPD evidence invoice, some crime
scene photos and some very interesting articles on the Houston crime
lab scandal, the "forensic expert", Preston's original
court-appointed lawyer, and the sergeant who coerced Preston's first