Jury selection begins in murder trial of former Houston police officer

HOUSTON (AP) — Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a former Houston police officer accused of murder for his role in a 2019 drug raid that led to the death of a couple and revealed systemic corruption within the police department’s narcotics unit.

Gerald Goines pleaded not guilty to two felony murder counts for the January 2019 deaths of a married couple, Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58.

Prosecutors allege that Goines lied to obtain a search warrant by making up a confidential informant and wrongly portraying the couple as dangerous heroin dealers. That led to a deadly encounter in which officers shot and killed Tuttle, Nicholas and their dog, and found only small amounts of marijuana and cocaine in the house. Five officers, including Goines, were injured in the raid.

Jury selection is expected to last several weeks as prosecutors and defense attorneys plan to individually interview potential jurors.

Hearings in the case are then expected later this month, followed by opening statements on Sept. 9, according to the Harris County district attorney’s office.

On Monday, prosecutors and defense attorneys began asking jurors if they could remain impartial, with some saying they knew about the case from news reports and were not sure if they could be fair, the Houston Chronicle reported.

In March, a judge dismissed the murder charges against Goines. But he was indicted again a week later.

A dozen officers tied to the narcotics squad that carried out the raid, including Goines, were later indicted on various other charges following a corruption probe. A judge last month dismissed charges against some of the officers.

Since the raid, prosecutors have reviewed thousands of cases handled by the narcotics unit.

Goines is also facing federal charges in connection with the case.