Deric Muhammad Supports the Wrongfully Convicted



After 14 years in prison for attempted rape, Reginald Matthews says DNA from the 1990 case clears him of any wrongdoing.


Where that evidence is, or 622x350f it exists at all, is the question that Matthews and his supporters posed to Harris County District Attorney Devo
n Anderson
 in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday.


“That’s the million-dollar question: Where is the forensic evidence?” community activist Deric Muhammad said at a news conference outside Houston’s criminal courthouse. “(Matthews) is saying it’s out there and he’s challenging them to find it.”


Matthews, Muhammad and others publicized the case last week in an at
tempt to urge the District Attorney’s Office to exonerate the 44-year-old, who was released from prison in 2005.


When his plight was first made public on Jan. 9, Matthews said a DNAtest of clothes left behind at the scene was not conclusive, but a second DNA test completed after he was convicted in 1991 cleared him.


That story changed after Matthews and supporters met with Anderson and staffers for two hours Wednesday.



“There’s speculation now, whether those clothes were ever tested,” Muhammad said. Without any DNA admitted at the trial, Muhammad said, the evidence that put Matthews in prison was flimsy, including an unusual identification.


Identified by scent


It was in the early morning hours of Sept. 27, 1990, when a southeast Houston woman was startled from sleep by a naked man cupping his hand over her mouth. His hands had a distinctive bitter scent that she had never smelled before, according to court records.


The woman fought off her attacker and, as she tried to grab a stick from beside the bed, the naked man ran out of the house and was seen by the woman’s teenage sister.


Police officers later told jurors they found Matthews minutes later a few blocks away, “slipping on clothes.”


The police took him back to the scene of the crime, where the woman asked to smell him and identified him by the scent on his hands. Her sister also told jurors at trial that she identified Matthews, although she saw his face for a only moment.


Matthews was convicted of burglary of a habitation to commit a sexual assault, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.


Wednesday, he maintained that he was innocent.


“I did not commit this crime and the District Attorney’s Office is
working with us,” Matthews said. “I stand on the truth and that’s what we’re searching for.”


Case still under review


He said he presen
ted his side of the story Wednesday and continues to wait while Anderson’s office investigates.


The district attorney has not made any comment about the case, except to s
ay that it remains under review.


During his news conference last week, Matthews incorrectly identified the prosecutor who handled the case in 1990.


Court records show Mark Rubal prosecuted Matthews. Rubal did not remember the case or the trial and has not been contacted to review the file.


About Deric Muhammad

Deric Muhammad believes that man is given power for one reason; and that is to serve others. Muhammad is an accomplished Houston-based Activist/Organizer who addresses issues on Social Justice, Black Male Development, Police Brutality, Racial Inequality and other critical topics. Muhammad prides himself in being an “on the ground watchman” of Freedom, Justice and Equality for the Black community and other poor, underserved, disenfranchised communities, as well. A native Houstonian, Deric grew up on the rough and tumble streets of Northeast Houston. At the age of 11 his father died and his mother struggled with an addiction to drugs that she, later in life, overcame. Deric was raised in an environment where drugs, gang violence, prostitution, police brutality and other “social cancers” were prominent. This is important to know, because it verifies that Muhammad addresses these issues based on vast knowledge and personal experience. Like countless Black men who came before him, he changed his life around through his studies as a member of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad hosts an annual “Smart’n Up” Black Male Summit that deals with the unique issues that Black men and boys face in society. In 2009 he independently produced and starred in a critically acclaimed documentary called “Raising Boys: Tips for Single Moms” that addressed the plight of Black women raising sons in the absence of a father. He recently launched a Houston-based Black Male Initiative called Project FORWARD that focuses on Stopping Inner-City Violence and creating Economic Development. His writings have been published in many newspapers and he is currently working on his first self-published book. Muhammad has been, for years, seen on local and national television stations addressing the tough issues faced by Black people in America. He says that he is unashamed of his love for Black people and thanks God every day for giving him the honor of serving his community.

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