Darius Elam gets a Dec 7 hearing on recanted informant testimony
Darius Elam. Photo by Aswad Walker.

Darius Elam has been in prison for nearly 40 years, yet no evidence links him to the crime. In fact, DNA testing has removed Elam from being anywhere near the scene of the crime. For these, and several other reasons regarding this troubling miscarriage of justice, the Honey Brown Hope Foundation (HBHF) has been on a mission to have Elam’s case reopened with the hope that a fresh review would allow Elam to go free.

That hope is continually being dashed by the actions, or rather the inactions of Judge Josh Hill, who has been a consistent roadblock in efforts to uncover the truth behind this heartbreaking case.

In 1984, Darius Elam, a Black college student at Texas Southern University (TSU) and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., was convicted of aggravated robbery of a white man found dead with a gunshot wound to his head on the campus of Rice University on May 7, 1983.

“Darius was originally charged with felony murder and credit card theft; however, with no proof of murder these charges were changed to aggravated robbery,” said Tammie Lang Campbell, founder of the HBHF. “He was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to life despite no confession and maintaining innocence; a deeply flawed investigation and compelling evidence he was wrongly convicted.”

The gold standard “evidence” of the investigation Campbell calls “deeply flawed” is a questionable yellow sheet of paper with alleged blood spatters that was never logged or mentioned by three separate crime scene investigators on May 9, 1983. Ninety days after the initial investigation, HPD Officer Leonard Cooper reportedly found this sheet of paper on the front passenger’s side floor of the victim’s car. Suspiciously, this sheet of paper was not documented in the original evidence log and was the only item destroyed by Harris County District Clerk’s Office in 1995.

Elam has never stopped proclaiming his innocence, and reiterated this fact when interviewed by the Defender in April.

HBHF member Shar-day Campbell, daughter of the founder, reiterates the belief that Elam was wrongfully convicted.

“There are three things pointing to Elam’s innocence: a recanted paid jailhouse informant testimony, DNA testing excluding Elam and an unidentified person’s DNA found at the crime scene,” said Shar-day.

“Even with the compelling evidence of innocence, Judge Josh Hill, 232nd Judicial District Court of Harris County, continues to delay this case until after his election on November 8 and also declined to accept District Attorney Kim Ogg’s request made in July 2022 to un-recuse itself and take back Darius D. Elam’s case (TDCJ Number: 00380190), to examine for themselves if Elam was convicted fairly or not. 

The most recent decisions and delays by Judge Josh Hill bring more questions than answers for Elam’s family and supporters. 

After a two-year delay, on January 10, 2022, Judge Josh Hill, 232nd Judicial District Court of Harris County, finally issued his recommendation to the Court of Criminal Appeals. He recommended that Darius Elam’s application for Writ of Habeas Corpus be denied, and that the original guilty conviction be upheld. His recommendation failed to address the June 2021 Supplemental Writ regarding the recanted informant’s testimony.

“The truth still matters and a judge who made a critical decision without reviewing all of the facts regarding the defendant’s case is not impartial and should recuse him or herself,” said Tammie.

Elam has filed a recusal motion requesting Hill’s disqualification based on abuse of power, favoritism to the state, lack of impartiality and inability to render fair judgment.

“The HBHF is asking the community at large to denounce Judge Hill’s miscarriage of justice against Elam and demand that he recuses himself on Elam’s case,” added Tammie.

To learn more support justice for Elam, please visit the Honey Brown Hope Foundation at: https://www.honeybrownhope.org/dariuselam.

Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...