Innocent Bystander: An Innocent Man Wins in Court But Loses in the Long Run

Roderick O'Bryant got sucked into a court case that stole his life from him.

But you can only fight so far. Because even as O'Bryant stands free, even as he lies in his bed and remembers that his record has been expunged and that his family is nearby, there's nothing he can do to reclaim the things gone. Tyliyah's with her mother. His job's with someone else.

And any possible restitution from the county went up in smoke when they found him not guilty.

There was no evidence fabricated. No wrongful imprisonment afterward. O'Bryant has suffered more for a crime he didn't commit than for the ones he did. But there's nothing that could offer grounds for suit.

Roderick O'Bryant, flanked by his sister, Kenethia O'Bryant, and his mother, Ava Newman, was found not guilty of murder in early May — but lost nearly everything anyway.
Photo by Daniel Kramer
Roderick O'Bryant, flanked by his sister, Kenethia O'Bryant, and his mother, Ava Newman, was found not guilty of murder in early May — but lost nearly everything anyway.
Shelton Sparks, O'Bryant's lawyer, was successful in showing the jury that the case against his client was a weak one.
Photo by Daniel Kramer
Shelton Sparks, O'Bryant's lawyer, was successful in showing the jury that the case against his client was a weak one.

And when O'Bryant recalls the people and holidays and opportunities lost, he realizes that's just how it will stay. All because of a man who looked like him, but wasn't.

casey.michel@houstonpress.com

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5 comments
mikesurack
mikesurack

Every time we hear or read about innocent folks being eaten alive by our so-called 'justice' system, there are dozens of others who suffer in anonymity.  Marc Anderson 1981 you are right on the money with the comment you made below.  Speaking of money, the only way to get justice in America is to purchase it.  I see much the same thing coming soon to our healthcare industry now that O-care is in effect, but that is outside the scope of this topic so I will shut up about it.

jill_emt
jill_emt

I read this story and know this family's agony.  My husband also was accused of something he did not do and because he had dealt with the justice system in the past, it seems that is all the police and prosecutors saw.  He spent 3-1/2 years in Harris county jail awaiting trial before he got his freedom back.  In the meanwhile, bankruptcy, bills, missed birthdays and Christmas' away from a new wife who had a stroke within a month of his arrest.  Deaths of several family members occurred and there was nothing he could do but sit in jail and wait.  He also contracted a nasty Staph infection in jail and was hospitalized and underwent multiple surgeries.  He now works doing "what he can" and will never be on the earning track he was on prior to this injustice.  We are not African American, but white, so I believe the prosecutors and police don't look beyond a person's past (even if they have overcome it) and don't consider it a race issue, but YES, they do need to reconsider how they do their jobs and consider someone innocent until proven guilty.  Thank you for sharing your story and helping us to not feel so alone.

marc_anderson_1981
marc_anderson_1981

The U.S. Criminal Justice System: Big on Criminal, not so much on the Justice.

 
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