Second imprisoned defendant gets case dismissed because of Eden Prairie officer
The second of three imprisoned defendants had his case dismissed Thursday because of an Eden Prairie police officer who falsified a search warrant and lied about it in court.
The hearing to dismiss the drug possession charge against Torrance Gray lasted less than 10 minutes. The Hennepin County prosecutors office supported the action sought by defense attorneys and approved by Judge Tanya Bransford.
Gray remains in jail on a separate charge for illegally possessing a firearm. He pleaded guilty a couple of months ago on the drug charge. As he left the courtroom in his orange prison jumpsuit, he smiled at a friend in the audience.
His was the second of 33 convictions likely to be vacated because of the testimony of Eden Prairie officer Travis Serafin. Gray was one of three men imprisoned primarily through an investigation led by Serafin.
Serafins work first became an issue in a case against Timothy M. Holmes, for whose home he obtained a search warrant in September 2017.
Serafin found large amounts of heroin and other drugs at Holmes house, but then searched Holmes car without a warrant and found more drugs.
Holmes was charged with first-degree drug sale and third-degree murder in the death of a person who purchased his heroin. Serafin falsified a second warrant after the fact that covered the car, but when he was asked about it by Holmes lawyer, Fred Goetz, the officer lied and called it a clerical error.
Both Goetz and Hennepin County Judge Fred Karasov were skeptical of the explanation. The judge forwarded his concerns to the Eden Prairie Police Department, which conducted an investigation and found that Serafin had lied.
The matter has been sent to McLeod County prosecutors for consideration of criminal charges. In the meantime, Serafin remains employed in Eden Prairie.
Holmes, who is serving a six-year sentence, is likely to be released from prison as a result of the dismissal. He entered a plea to the drug charges in exchange for dropping the murder charge.
The Hennepin County Attorneys Office said earlier this month that Serafin was the primary witness in 33 convictions that would be dismissed. Last week Judge Jeannice Reding vacated the drug conviction of Sean Donzell Cole, who was convicted in January of selling narcotics and sentenced to almost three years in prison.
Serafin, who was hired by Eden Prairie in 2000, has been removed from the Southwest Hennepin Drug Task Force, the SWAT team training unit, and sent to ethics training. He was ordered to work with a supervisor on all future warrants.
Rochelle Olson 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson