Men plead guilty in sexual assault of 14 year old


by Emily Waldrep

Assistant District Attorney Dan Hunt pled two men to sexually assaulting a 14 year old Livingston girl at a Woodville motel in November of 2012 and a third man is expected to plead guilty to the same charge on Thursday.

One of the men, Hunt said, met the girl on the internet website, The girl had posted that she was 18 years old and looking for a man for sex. The three men were in town from Kentucky to work on construction of the German Pellet Plant.

After communicating over the internet and text message, the men set up a meeting with the girl. The girl willingly got in the vehicle with the men, waited while the men went into the Livingston Walmart to buy beer, and rode back to Woodville with them.

"Once at the motel room, the three men and the girl smoked marijuana and drank beer," Hunt said. "Eventually, the men began to sexually assault the girl. All three took part, and one even used his cell phone to video record the others having sex with the girl."

Hunt says that the next morning, Woodville Police received information that the girl was a runaway and was at the motel. The girl was found, but made no outcry to police. She was returned to Polk County Sheriff's Deputies who returned her to her home. Once at home, she made an outcry to her grandfather. Her grandfather immediately took her to the Polk County Sheriff's Office who sent them back to the Woodville Police.

"Sgt. Jathan Borel and Officer Erin Dees interviewed the girl," Hunt said. " Just as the interview ended, the girl saw the three men drive up to the motel. Officers detained the men, searched their motel room, and gathered evidence. Part of the evidence gathered was the cell phone with the video recording."

Assistant District Attorney Dan Hunt was preparing for a jury trial on one of the men, and a deal had been worked with the other two men to testify against the third man in exchange for shorter sentences. On Friday before the trial, Hunt had the defendant brought to the Tyler County District Courtroom with his attorney. Hunt showed the defendant the video from the motel and the defendant immediately changed his mind about the trial and decided to plead guilty.

"This is a win for everybody," said Hunt. "The county saves the expense of a trial, the girl doesn't have to testify, the video doesn't have to be shown, and three sexual predators are off the streets."

James Clayton and Matthew Byers plead guilty on May 27 in front of Judge Earl Stover. James Clayton received 12 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division. Matthew Byers received eight years. Joshua Clayton is scheduled to plead guilty before Judge Jerome Owens and receive eight years Thursday. All will have to register for life as sex offenders.

Man arrested in Fred Morman church parking lot on drug charges

by Emily Waldrep

On June 7, two Tyler County Sheriff's deputies responded to a disturbance at the Mormon Church in Fred after being advised that a man identified as Jeremy West was in the parking lot screaming, yelling and hitting his truck.

According to Phil Ryan of the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, West's truck was sitting in the back parking lot of the church and as deputies approached they saw a man sleeping in the front seat.

"Deputies asked the man if he was alright and had West exit the vehicle, who stated that he was just trying to sleep," Ryan said. "After speaking to West for a few seconds he told deputies he was just going to make it easy in the officers and pulled his wallet out of his pocket and began searching through it."

West pulled out a clear plastic bag containing a clear crystal substance that appeared to be methamphetamine and told officers that was all he had.

West was placed under arrest for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Public Intoxication and was transported to the jail without incident.

The substance is being analyzed by the Texas Department of Public Safety and once it is identified a warrant for additional charges will be handed down by the grand jury.

Tyler County representatives attend 2014 Republican Party of Texas State Convention

by Emily Waldrep

Ten delegates, including U.S. House of Representatives Candidate Dr. Brian Babin, Roxanne Babin, State Representative James White, Dan Hunt, Keri Hunt, Lois Henderson, Dave Henderson, Kristen Cordes, Claudia Provance and Dr. Jim Beattie, represented Tyler County at the 2014 Republican Party of Texas State Convention in Fort Worth on June 5 through 7 at Tarrant County Convention Center.

Dan Hunt led the delegation in place of Tyler County Republican Party Chairman Michael Paddie. Paddie is an administrator for Warren ISD, and was involved in graduation events over the weekend. Paddie asked Hunt, who was County Party Chairman in Johnson County from 2006 to 2008, to lead the delegation.

According to Hunt, the delegation took part in General Sessions, Senate District Caucuses, special events, and took some time during breaks to explore downtown Fort Worth. During General Sessions, the convention discussed and debated party business, party rules, and the party platform. Senate District Caucuses focused on electing State Republican Executive Committeeman and Committeewoman, and electing representatives to the Rules, Platform, Credentials and Nominations Committees. Jim Wiggins and Judy Parada, both of Montgomery County, were re-elected as the SREC man and woman. Dr. Beattie ran for Platform Committee, and Cordes ran for Rules Committee. James White and Brian Babin both addressed the Caucus.

Many elected officials and candidates addressed the General Sessions, including U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Texas Attorney General and Governor Candidate Greg Abbott, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. The convention had a very healthy debate over various platform issues and eventually adopted a platform on Saturday afternoon.

In addition, members of the delegation attended a reception for Veterans on Friday evening. The reception was hosted by General Abbott, and was scheduled on Friday to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasions that turned the tide of World War II in Europe. In attendance was one veteran who actually participated in the D-Day invasion. Dr. Babin, James White, Dan Hunt, Dr. Jim Beattie and Dave Henderson of Tyler County are all military veterans that participated.

What is expected to be the largest Presidential straw poll for the 2016 elections was held during the convention. Senator Ted Cruz won the straw poll very convincingly, receiving 43.4 percent of the vote. Cruz was followed by Dr. Ben Carson with 12.3 percent and Rand Paul with 12.1 percent. Texas Governor Rick Perry was 4th with 11.7 percent.

Angleton man arrested walking around Walmart parking lot with rifle

by Emily Waldrep

An Angleton man brandishing a gun in the Wal-mart parking lot was arrested after what officers believe to be bath salts were found in a camper he was pulling.

On Saturday, June 7, Woodville Police Officers were dispatched to the Wal-Mart parking lot in reference to a man brandishing a rifle. Officer Sheffield responded with Officer Brian Seales.
According to Captain Mike McCulley of the Woodville Police Department, the original report stated that a man was in a vehicle that was pulling a travel trailer and he was walking around the parking lot with the rifle saying that someone was after him. Officers determined the man was intoxicated and likely using some type of narcotic. The gun was seized and after questioning the man identified as Ricki Thornton, age 54 of Angleton, the officers discovered that he had an outstanding warrant from Jefferson County for a probation violation. He was arrested for the warrant and for being intoxicated.

"Several witnesses observed Thornton and told officers that he was acting erratic and talking in a threatening manner while carrying the gun," McCulley said.

Officers searched Thornton's truck and camper and found a small amount of what is believed to be bath salts, which is being sent to the crime lab for further testing.

It was also determined that Thornton was a convicted felon, so he was charged with Felony Possession of a Firearm, a third degree felony, along with Public Intoxication and outstanding warrants.

Once results from the crime lab come back, additional drug charges could be added.

Warren woman caught with drug in cookie tin

by Emily Waldrep

A Warren resident was arrested on June 2 after marijuana was found in a cookie tin at her residence.

Tyler County Sheriff's Deputy went down County Road 1325 in Warren for a welfare check on Cheryl Gibson of Warren after witnesses reported Gibson and her husband had been fighting.
According to Phil Ryan with the Tyler County Sheriff's Department, while deputies were on the scene, Gibson decided to leave the residence for the night with her daughter and as they were exiting the Deputies noticed a Danish cookie tin on the ground near the vehicle Gibson would be driving.

"When the deputy picked up the tin, a metal on metal noise could be heard which is odd because a tin like that usually has cookies in it," Ryan said. "It was opened and it had a green leafy substance known to be marijuana as well as drug paraphernalia such as grinders and rolling papers."

Gibson claimed sole ownership of the marijuana and was arrested and transported to the Sheriff's office.

She was charged with Possession of Marijuana.