HOUSTON -- An appeals court Tuesday overturned the voluntary manslaughter conviction against former Houston policeman Alex Gonzales in the October 1989 slaying of a black woman motorist.
Ida Lee Delaney, 50, was shot and killed during a traffic altercation in which three off-duty police officers chased her car until she pulled over on U.S. 59 and exchanged gunfire with one of them.
The men chased her car on Houston freeways for 13 miles, saying she had fired a shot at their car. But prosecutors argued the off-duty officers chased Delaney simply because she cut in front of them in traffic.
Gonzales was shot once upon approaching Delaney's car as he wore civilian clothes. He said he had identified himself as a police officer before she fired. He returned fire, hitting Delaney three times. She died at the scene.
Gonzales, 27, was convicted in Delaney's death and sentenced to seven years in prison. He remained free on bail pending the appeal of his conviction.
A court spokesman for the Harris County 1st District Court of Appeals said the verdict was overturned because evidence was excluded from Gonzales' trial about Delaney's background.
The other two officers, Robert Gonzales Jr. (no relation) and Alexander Romero, were never charged in the case, but were fired from the police department.
All three men had been off duty and out drinking together when they got into the altercation with Delaney. Blood tests showed Gonzales was legally intoxicated at the time.