To be accused, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison for a murder she did not commit was the beginning of a nine-year nightmare for Joyce Ann Brown.
Joyce Ann Brown grew up in a family of ten in a rented three-bedroom house in a poor, black area of Dallas, Texas. Thanks to the strong guidance from her parents, especially her mother, Joyce stayed away from drugs, crime and the other pitfalls that claimed many around her. While still a young girl, Joyce made a promise of a better life for her and her family. A promise she intended to keep.
An early marriage ended in divorce but left Joyce with a wonderful gift, her daughter Koquice. Wanting to provide the best of everything for her daughter and wanting to help her brothers and sisters with tuition, nice clothes and other necessities that would help them succeed, Joyce started leading a double life. For six years she attended church on Sundays, dressed conservatively around her family, and held a part-time job while working as a call girl.
During this time Joyce had one brief run-in with the law that would later come back to haunt her but that wasn’t what made her stop being a call girl. It was only when she realized that her children might find out what she was doing, that Joyce decided to change her life. With a relationship ending and an additional child to care for, Lee Jr., Joyce starting working full time as a Girl Friday at Koslow’s Furs. The money wasn’t what she used to making, but it was a good, clean check.
On May 6, 1980, a robbery and murder was committed at another furrier across town. Joyce was accused of the crime. She was picked out of a mug book by a lone eyewitness, the wife of the slain furrier. Joyce was thrown in jail with bail set at a million dollars. At the trial the prosecution presented the lone eyewitness, a weak theory that the crime could be committed in thirty minutes and most damaging, testimony from a prisoner Joyce tried to befriend in jail. This woman lied on the witness stand and told jurors that Joyce had confessed to the crime even though nothing like that had happened.
Joyce had eyewitnesses who testified that she was working at the time of the offense. Her attorney presented a sound argument about the plausibility of events and despite a complete lack of physical evidence, the all-white jury convicted Joyce.
Requests for appeals went unanswered and Joyce began serving time in the Texas Department of Corrections. During that time Joyce learned the art of survival in prison, everything from prison routines to how to choose friends. Hatred began to fester in Joyce until one Christmas she decided that if she was going to stay human and walk out of prison feeling good about herself, it was time for a change.
Joyce prayed to God to ask that her bitterness be replaced with compassion and that love fill her heart. She decided not to be a victim of either the atmosphere or the attitude of prison. She changed her habits, her job and practiced what she had learned about surviving in prison instead of retreating into herself.
Joyce never gave up even with a failed appeal, the tragic death of her son Lee Jr., and her absence at the birth of her granddaughter, Brittainy, Joyce was determined to be strong. She set about on a new course of action, writing letters. It took three years but eventually Jim McCloskey and Centurion Ministries answered. Centurion had obtained the release of other wrongly convicted persons and had agreed to take on Joyce’s case. Things began to happen. With the help of a private detective, the continuing support of her attorney, Kerry, and the media spotlight now firmly in place, Joyce’s case took on a whole new meaning. A writ was filed requesting a new trial.
The request was granted and a new trial date was set. Joyce was released on bond on November 3, 1989. Posturing by the DA kept the case open for a few more months but on Valentines Day, 1990, the charges were dropped and Joyce Ann Brown was free, after nine years, five months and twenty-four days, her nightmare had finally ended.