Netflix is expanding its true crime library with its latest offering, Exhibit A, which premieres on June 28. The show explores how dubious forensic techniques resulted in people getting convicted. One of the cases the docuseries digs into is George Powell’s conviction. The Texas native is claiming “junk science” put him behind bars and is fighting to prove his innocence. Before you binge-watch the gripping series, here’s a primer on George Powell’s story.
|Name||George Robert Powell III|
|Date of Birth||01/14/1973|
|Current Facility||Alfred D. Hughes Unit|
|Sentence Begin Date||06-18-2008|
|Next Parole Board Review Date||06/2022|
What Happened to George Powell?
George Robert Powell III was born on January 14, 1973 and hails from Texas. He’s currently serving a 28-year prison sentence for allegedly committing armed robbery. But Powell claims he’s innocent and alleges that he was framed by “junk science.”
The incident occurred on June 9, 2008 at a 7-Eleven in Killeen, Texas. A man in a white shirt, sunglasses, and a baseball cap threatened the cashier with a gun and made away with cash from the register and a pack of cigarettes.
Shortly after, authorities arrested Powell on armed robbery charges. He was convicted and sentenced to nearly three decades in prison.
His projected release date is in 2036 and he’s up for parole in 2022. However, 10 years into his sentence, Powell broke his silence in 2018 and proclaimed his innocence.
A Surveillance Video Was Used against Powell
The surveillance video from the 7-Eleven robbery was used to put Powell in prison. Additionally, a jailhouse snitch claimed that Powell confessed to him about the robbery.
However, eight years into his sentence, a pen pal-turned-Powell’s fiancée, Tamara Parsons, enabled him to reopen his case with new evidence that could possibly prove his innocence. In 2018, his case was looked into amid growing national attention.
According to a forensic video analyst, the perpetrator seen in the video is much shorter than Powell. Furthermore, the prison informant recanted his testimony, saying he lied hoping to cut a deal for himself when he and Powell had never known each other.
Experts Say Man in Video Is Not Powell
Powell’s case has gotten the attention of forensic experts, including the Texas Forensic Science Commission. With the help of Parsons, the Texas branch of the Innocence Project, the organization that works with the Central Park Five, helped Powell get a defense team.
According to analysts who checked the video, the person in the video is between 5’6” and 5’8”. That’s significantly shorter than the 6’3” frame of Powell. It also contradicts prosecutors’ claims that the person in the video is 6’1”.
Powell and the Innocence Project claim that the prosecutors used “junk science” to convict him. Junk science, especially in legal scenarios, refers to using inaccurate scientific analysis, data, or research as forensic evidence.
He had been a thorn in the side of law enforcement for years before his arrest and the robbery was a chance to put him behind bars. Powell’s defense claims that the inaccurately analyzed video can mislead jurors.
Powell, who was an aspiring musician, claims to have been selling CDs of his music at the time of the 7-Eleven robbery in Killeen. After selling the CDs, he went home to his family where he was arrested. In the past, Powell had run into trouble with police for selling his CDs on private property, but he says he would never rob anyone.
More discrepancies in his case were unraveled recently. A judge found that his due process rights were violated and his attorney was not informed about the witness recanting his statement.
Where Is George Powell Now?
Powell’s case is stuck in legal limbo and he’s still in prison at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit while a judge has recommended a new trial for him. But there’s a good amount of support for his innocence.
Powell’s family, including his father, George Powell II, are helping him in his fight. Powell hopes to be released and be there for his son, Giovanni Powell, (who was 13 in 2018). “I can’t teach my boy anything from in here. I love him, I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for him … but it’s gonna be alright he’s a good kid,” said Powell.
He is currently engaged to Parsons, who is rallying support behind him. She’s also a single mother to a daughter.
Powell Hopes Netflix’s Exhibit A Will Help Him Prove His Innocence
Powell not only hopes to return to his family, but also wants to get back to his music career. And he’s positive Netflix’s Exhibit A will help his case.
“I want it to reach into as many homes as possible and really expose how corrupted these district attorney’s offices really are,” said Powell.
A producer for the series agreed, telling one local station: “It clearly shows the need for careful regulation of forensic science in the courtroom, especially in regards to forensic video analysis and new forms of digital technology.”
Powell’s attorney, Mike Ware from the Innocence Project, says, “I want them to see how junk forensic science was abused by the state, by the prosecutors in this particular case to wrongfully convict an innocent man. I want people to see how that was done.”
The Bell County DA, Henry Garza, can’t comment on the ongoing case. He, however, stands by Powell’s conviction and says about the Netflix docuseries, “I do not recall ever being approached by the individuals that prepared the Netflix special for the inclusion of relevant information, facts, or comments that might be significant in respect to this case.”