Judge Sets Houston Man Set Free After 22 Years in Prison

In 1987, Gary Richard of Houston was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and rape. A recent review of the case showed the Houston Police Department's lab analysis was faulty. As a result, Richard was set free today until prosecutors decide if they'll retry the case. Bill Stamps the story.
The human mind can process millions of bits of information in a short time. Gary Richard had 22 years to think, locked up in a small cell. One of those thoughts was that he would die in prison and never live with his family again.

"Well, he's going to get that chance, at least for a while."


(sound: clapping)

This was the scene today…as Gary walked out of jail a free man.

"What are you going to do tonight Gary?"

"Spend time with my family and eat good."


Earlier in the day day a judge allowed Gary to go home while the district attorney's office investigates his case and decides what to do next. They can decide to retry the case or give Gary his permanent freedom. Bob Wicoff is his attorney.

"Well, I have mixed feelings. I'm grateful for Gary Richard. I'm glad that we were able to find some justice for Gary. But there are a lot of other cases where I'm convinced there are innocent men in prison. But there's nothing left to test. We don't have rape kits left to test and we can't prove their innocence."

Gary's brother Kent Noel talked to him when they learned there was a chance he might be set free.

"He just ready to get out. And I was like Gary you getting ready to get out, if you get out there are folks talking about money. He was like, I don't care about no money or anything. I've done enough time, you know, for nothing.

"Just freedom."


image of Gary Richards ReleaseSo for now, Gary Richard has his freedom. And His Sister Velda Noel has lots of food waiting for him at home. 

"I cooked turkey, dressing. I cooked brisket, ribs and I did broccoli, greens."


Gary Richard didn't say much after walking out of jail. He hugged his family, said a few words to reporters and then walked down the street with his grandchildren, whom he'd only seen once. After 22 years behind bars, Gary says he's not bitter...just happy to be free.

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.