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Man who molested 12 year old sentenced to 10 years in TDCJ

by Emily Waldrep

David Allen Price, age 19, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being arrested for the sexual assault of a child in February and March of 2013. Price was 18 years old at time of the offense.

According to reports, Officers with the Woodville Police Department were tipped off that a 12 year old victim may have been abused by Price. After an investigation, the 12 year old was interviewed and a statement obtained stating that on six or seven occasions the defendant allegedly engaged in sexual contact with the 12 year old victim at a location in Woodville.

According to Captain Mike McCulley with the Woodville Police Department, allegations claimed that Price lured the 12 year old to a location and on each occasion Price engaged in sexual contact with the 12 year old.

"After interviewing Price, he admitted that the allegations were true," McCulley said.
Price was arrested and charged with Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child and held in the Tyler County Jail under a half-million dollar bond.

Price finally faced Judge Stover on December 19, 2014, and according to Assistant Criminal District Attorney Eric Hillman, Price accepted a plea bargain of 10 years in TDCJ.

"When we look at all the victims in all of Tyler County, we want to protect the children the most," Hillman said. "We hoped to settle with a plea bargain so that the victim would not have to be brought in and traumatized further by recounting the evidence in court."

Price will not be eligible for parole until he serves half of the 10 year sentence, and possibly will never be eligible for parole.

"He will be monitored by law enforcement for the rest of his life and will have to register as a sex offender for life," Hillman said.

According to Hillman, by accepting the plea bargain the young victim in the case would not have to go to trail and be further traumatized.

"Our office is committed, above all, to protecting children and their vulnerability," Hillman said.

Sheriff’s deputies catch thieves in Doucette who took Houston car during robbery

by Emily Waldrep

On Friday, December 26, at approximately 1:15 a.m., deputies with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department were on routine patrol on the north end of the county when they initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle on County Road 3050 in Doucette.

According to Sheriff Bryan Weatherford, the vehicle had been reported stolen by the Houston Police Department in a strong-arm robbery. Deputies observed three subjects in the vehicle and identified them as Demarcus Jackson, age 20 of Corrigan, Trashondra Walker, age 24 of Livingston and Versia Darcel Walker, age 24 of Lufkin. Trashondra Walker was the driver of the vehicle.

According to Weatherford, a search of the vehicle revealed 10 grams of synthetic marijuana. There was also identifying items linking the stolen vehicle to its original owner.
All three were arrested.

Demarcus Jackson was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.

Trashondra Walker was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Versia Darcel Walker was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance Penalty Group 2-A.

Walker, Walker and Jackson are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Woodville woman jailed after throwing hot grits on man

by Emily Waldrep

A Woodville woman landed in jail Christmas eve on charges of Aggravated Assault after burning her estranged husband with hot food. According to Mike McCulley with the Woodville Police Department, the incident happened on December 24 in Woodville on Railroad Street shortly after midnight.

Officer Zachary was dispatched to the disturbance and was told by dispatch that an intoxicated woman was reported to be throwing hot food on her estranged husband and threatening him with a hammer and a machete. Deputy Ross also arrived at the scene and made contact with the male subject at the home, and identified the female as Victoria Lynn "Cantrell" Lopez. Officers also observed that the male subject had burns on the left side of his face, neck and upper left shoulder and it was obvious he had been recently burned by something.

According to McCulley, the male subject stated that his common law wife had arrived from being out of town and they got into an argument over a computer, and that later on he was in the living room when Lopez threw a pot of hot grits on him before he ran outside the back door to escape. Lopez continued to pursue him with a hammer and a machete.

"A physical altercation occurred between Lopez and the man, and the man called 9-1-1," McCulley said.
An officer placed Lopez under arrest for Aggravated Assault Causing Bodily Injury Family Violence and she was later transported to Tyler County Jail.

Tyler County EMS arrived on scene to treat the male subjects wounds, and he was later transported to Tyler County Hospital and released.

"We often see a lot of family violence around the holidays because it tends to stress people out for whatever reasons, but that brings to light the fact that a lot of people assume that when we get to family violence situations most people think the male will be the aggressor," McCulley said. "Now, that is not the case. The female is the aggressor just as much as the man."

According to McCulley, these cases are difficult for law enforcement due to couples getting into altercations, filing protection orders or restraining orders, and then taking their significant other back, which is breaking the law.

"In this particular case, police were called back to the same residence three days later on a welfare check of the male subject only to find out that he had let Lopez come back and was hiding her in his house because after the Christmas Eve incident he had filed an emergency protection order against her," McCulley said. "Then four days later she is back in his house, and of course she was arrested again for violating the protective order."

Officers also encourage everyone, whether it is a man, woman or child, report family violence as soon as it's happening and not wait.

"These cases are so volatile and so unpredictable that anything could happen," McCulley said.
Lopez is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

District Attorney Joe Smith bids farewell to Tyler County

by Kelli Barnes

Tyler County District attorney Joe Smith attended his final Commissioners Court meeting as an office holder on Monday. Tyler County Judge Jacque Blanchette spoke for the county, honoring Smith with a special thank you.

Commissioners voted unanimously to accept the lease agreement conditions for Congressman-elect Brian Babin , as it pertains to office space in the courthouse. Following precedent set by other counties with hometown U. S. congressmen, there will be no charge for the space. "It will be an honor and a boost to Tyler County, for Babin to office in the courthouse," Blanchette said.

Commissioner Rusty Hughes stepped down from the position of Judge Pro-Tem, recommending Commissioner Jack Walston be appointed to this position for 2015. The vote was unanimous and Walston accepted the appointment.

Adult Probation Chief Matt O'Neal, requested a modification to the contract between Tyler County and the Tyler County Community Supervision and Corrections Department (CSCD). "The change will allow us to work community service workers a couple of times a month for a full eight hours at a time, instead of partial days every Saturday, O'Neal said." The court voted to approve the contract change and also thanked O'Neal for the community service worker's demolition efforts at the new Commissioners Court offices. "Their work saved the county $8000", said Commissioner Martin Nash.

Tyler County is without an Agricultural Extension agent beginning January 3. Jennifer Page resigned her position for personal reasons and will begin a teaching position closer to her hometown. "...please know that I will miss my time here. Thank you all for the support that you have offered over the last several months..." Page said in a resignation letter to the court.

Additional re-appointments to the Tyler County Historical Commission were voted on, along with honorary members being appointed. They are: voting members Chuck Davidson, Bob Morris, Billie Ratcliff and Donna Taylor; honorary members Mayme Brown, Peggy Burton, Jesse Collins and Manie Whitmeyer; plus Judge Jacques Blanchette as Ex-Officio.

In other business commissioners tabled the copy machine decision for the Tax office, and took care of general housekeeping items for the new year.

New Tyler County elected officials will be sworn in Friday, January 2 at 10 a.m. in the District courtroom. The public is invited to attend. The next Commissioners Court meeting will be Monday, January 12 at 10 a.m.

Judge Jerome Owens retires after 26 years

by Michael G. Maness

Texas District Judge Jerome Owens thanked all at his retirement party at the Jasper Event Center, Thursday night, Dec. 11, celebrating his 26 years as a judge, among his 45-plus years in law.

Judge Jerome Owens (L) shows off his cake with long-time friend retired Tyler Commissioner Maxie Riley at Owens’ retirement party Thursday night at the Jasper Event Center.Judge Jerome Owens (L) shows off his cake with long-time friend retired Tyler Commissioner Maxie Riley at Owens’ retirement party Thursday night at the Jasper Event Center.Local businessman Joe Copes opened the party and introduced the Rev. John D. Hardin, Pastor of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, who gave the invocation for a delicious barbeque. Bill Morian and Joe Glenn Kahla did the cooking on their law firm's custom-made pit.

Owens is retiring from the district judge position at 75 the end of this year, the age limit according to Texas law, and will become Texas senior judge. His successor was there, too, Delinda Gibbs-Walker, a long-time attorney in Jasper. Owens wished her well, praised her integrity, and she appreciated Owens.

Tyler County Commissioner Jack Walston gave a presentation from the commissioner's court, thankful for all of Owens' service to Tyler County. Many remember Owens' leadership during hurricane Rita when he was the Tyler County Judge, a position he held for 18 years.
Tyler County Clerk Donece Gregory spoke of her appreciation.

Woodville attorney Lindsey Whisenhant reflected back when they shared a building, crediting a lot of his success to Owens' sage advice.

Newton county court reporter Shelley Stevenson and court coordinator Sharon Miller organized the retirement party, a very pleasant surprise to Owens, something not easy to do. Tyler County Auditor Jackie Skinner presented a special "retirement survival" basket to Owens in appreciation for his service.

DETCOG's Walter Diggles and Booker T. Hunter, President of the NAACP's Jasper Branch were present. A good cross section of business leaders, sheriffs, prosecutors, treasurers, and county clerks mingled among approximately 200, with most of the offices of Tyler, Jasper and Newton Counties represented.

Surprise – Owens' daughter, Sharla Sunberg, flew in from Florida, herself a busy surgeon.

Chief John Paul Feeley Day

Chief John Paul Feeley

Chief John Paul Feeley Day—The City of Ivanhoe proclaimed December 13 as "Chief John Paul Feeley Day" in honor of his 60 years of volunteer fire service. Bo Welborn, past President of the State Firemans' and Fire Marshals Association, presented Chief Feeley (seated, front row, left) with a certificate of appreciation for his service on behalf of the SFFMA. The IPOIA and Air Rescue, Inc. joined to name the Helipad Park in honor of Feeley.