Darius Elam, the former TSU student/athlete who received a life sentence for aggravated robbery after questionable, paid HPD informant testimony in 1984, is finally getting a hearing on Dec. 7, 2022, in Judge Josh Hill’s Court.
The hearing will be held at 232 Criminal Court, 1201 Franklin St., 16th Floor, Houston, TX 77002 at 9 a.m., to weigh the fact that the only “evidence” against Elam for the crime for which he has been incarcerated since 1983 was recanted by the paid HPD informant years ago.
The Defender has reported on this case multiple times, including an exclusive interview with Elam at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ’s) Memorial Unit (formerly the Darrington Unit) in Rosharon, TX where he is being held.
In 1983, Elam was originally charged with murder and credit card fraud. The murder charge was changed to aggravated robbery after the DA’s office was unable to convict Elam on murder.
Elam, now 63 years old, was a 20-something student at TSU and assistant manager of Florsheim’s in the Galleria when arrested. Elam, a native of Chicago, was an honor roll student on a track scholarship at TSU, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and husband with four young children under the age of five.
Those children are now grown, and have missed the experience of having their father in their lives due to his incarceration.
Despite having no prior criminal history, maintaining his innocence and what research has revealed to be a deeply flawed investigation, Elam was convicted of aggravated robbery.
With strong family support, Elam continues his fight for freedom.
“We have been praying, working and fighting to bring about justice for our brother, Darius,” said Sam Elam, Darius Elam’s brother. “He has been kidnapped by the so-called justice system and denied an opportunity to rear his children and be with his family.”
To date, there are three things pointing to Elam’s innocence: a recanted paid jailhouse informant testimony, DNA testing excluding Elam from the scene of the crime, and an unidentified person’s DNA found at the crime scene. Moreover, the initial charge of credit card fraud was emphatically dismissed by witnesses on the scene. In addition, the person who Elam accompanied through the Galleria, a fellow TSU student, Clarence Richardson, who asked Elam for a ride home, was actually the one who committed the credit card fraud. He, in fact, also told authorities Elam had nothing to do with the credit cards.
And it was those credit cards that brought the issue of murder into the conversation, as they belonged to Richard Bowen who had been murdered and his body found in a Rice University parking lot.
DNA testing of all crime scene evidence deleted Elam from being at the crime scene. Elam says he never knew nor met the deceased. Yet, Elam was initially charged with murder, with prosecutors settling on an aggravated assault case against Elam, under the assumption it would be an easier case to win—even though multiple people and DNA evidence suggest Elam had nothing to do with any of the accused wrongdoings.
Elam secured DNA testing in 2014 that excluded him as a contributor and found an unidentified person’s DNA. In other words, Elam was not at the crime scene, and just as important, somebody else, an unidentified person, was. In 2019, a hearing was held regarding the DNA results. Although Elam was excluded as a DNA contributor, Hill’s Jan. 10, 2022 recommendation to the Court of Criminal Appeals inexplicably denied Elam’s application for Writ of Habeas Corpus regarding the DNA exclusion and upheld the original guilty conviction.
In Hill’s failure to properly review all the evidence, he did not address the June 2021 Supplemental Writ regarding a recanted informant’s testimony. The Texas Criminal Court of Appeals ordered the Dec. 7 fact-finding hearing about the informant’s recanted statement because Hill failed to rule on the supplementary writ regarding the informant’s recanted statement.
The Dec. 7 hearing was originally set for June 2022, but was re-scheduled due to what many familiar with the case describe as Judge Hill’s “ongoing stalling tactics.”
In Elam’s continued fight for freedom and justice, he gained support from the Honey Brown Hope Foundation’s founder and Executive Director Tammie Lang Campbell, along with others.
“At the Honey Brown Hope Foundation, we recognize the root causes of wrongful convictions and unjust sentences for Black and Brown innocent people as systemic racism and inequities,” said Campbell. “Darius Elam’s case is just another example of how a Black person can be convicted for life of aggravated robbery, despite being an outstanding citizen with no prior criminal history, no admission of guilt, no DNA connecting him to the crime, manufactured evidence, and questionable, paid informants.”
Though Campbell is hopeful Elam will receive justice, she questions the ability of Hill to be up to the task of letting the evidence speak for itself.
“Can a judge who made a critical decision without reviewing all of the facts regarding the defendant’s case be impartial,” asked Campbell.
After Hill’s stalling and questionable tactics, Campbell and Elam’s supporters are depending on God to make things right and free Elam on Dec. 7, 2022.
“We know that God sees this injustice and we are looking to Him to override this injustice against Darius Elam and set him free on December 7,” added Campbell.
“We are eternally grateful for the unwavering work and support of the Honey Brown Hope Foundation, Tammie and Shar-day Campbell, for helping us pursue justice for Darius,” added Sam Elam.
For more information about Elam’s case, visit the Honey Brown Hope Foundation at: https://www.honeybrownhope.org/dariuselam.