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January 18, 2008
Round Rock Arsonist Sentenced to 60 Years in Prison
Mark Butcher, 40, was sentenced by a jury to 60 years in prison in the 277th District Court after he was convicted of arson. The jury also found that Butcher used or exhibited a deadly weapon (fire). That finding means he must serve at least 30 years in prison before he is eligible for parole. Judge Ken Anderson imposed the sentence and ordered Butcher’s transfer to prison.
On July 27, 2007, at about 6:00 a.m., Round Rock dispatchers received a 911 phone call from a woman who said that her boyfriend, who she had told to move out of her apartment at the Stonehaven complex on Louis Henna Boulevard, had called her at work and was threatening to burn down her apartment building. She said that he claimed he had already started a fire in the fireplace and pulled down the smoke alarms.
Police arrived at the second-story apartment within minutes but couldn’t get anyone to open the door. They saw and smelled smoke coming from the chimney. Moments later, Butcher jumped from the balcony to the ground and ran off. Officers caught Butcher and put him in custody. Butcher warned the officers to go back to the apartment and put out the fire.
Firefighters soon arrived and used heavy equipment to break open the door, finding that Butcher had placed a burning artificial log on a couch that he had pushed up against the front door. Fire and smoke damage covered the couch and part of the wall and door. However, a sprinkler had activated and put out the fire.
At trial, District Attorney John Bradley presented Butcher’s confession, recorded on video by Round Rock Detective John Rowe. In the confession, Butcher admitted setting the fire to get back at his girlfriend.
At the punishment phase, the jury learned that Butcher had been in prison for robbery and theft for crimes he committed in Austin and San Antonio. While in prison, Butcher was convicted of possession of a deadly weapon for making a dangerous weapon out of a comb and a razor. He also had been on probation as a juvenile for robbery. Additional evidence at trial showed that Butcher had been involved in many more crimes, including burglary and assault. His parole officer testified that Butcher was one of the worst parolees on his caseload.
January 09, 2008
Prosecutor Board Certified in Criminal Law
Williamson County Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant was notified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) that he passed his exam and is now board certified in criminal law. TBLS is authorized by the Texas Supreme Court to certify attorneys as experts in criminal law upon passing a difficult, 6-hour written examination. An attorney is eligible to take the examination only after practicing full-time for five years in criminal law. For more information on TBLS, go to http://www.tbls.org.
Mr. Grant has 11 years of experience in criminal law, having graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1996. He worked in the Harris County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor before joining the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office in 2004.
Mr. Grant currently works as a trial prosecutor in the 368th District Court before Judge Burt Carnes. He previously worked as a trial prosecutor for three years in the 26th District Court before Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield. He also handles asset forfeiture litigation, helping police departments seize money and property from drug dealers.
Of the more than 81,000 licensed attorneys in Texas, only 834 have achieved board certification in criminal law. Of the 12 attorneys in the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office, 10 of the attorneys, including the District Attorney, are board certified in criminal law.
“Mr. Grant accomplished this certification under amazing circumstances,” said District Attorney John Bradley. “He found the discipline to study and pass this exam while adopting three children into his family and handling a full caseload in his court. Phil Grant has shown himself to be committed to excellence in criminal law.”
County Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant
December 19, 2007
WCCAC Forensic Interviewers Recognized in Professional Society
Three forensic interviewers employed by the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center (WCCAC) have been accepted into the Professional Society of Forensic Interviewers (PSFI), an organization formed to set professional standards and best practices for those people collecting information from children at children’s advocacy centers in Texas. Carole Wall, Erin Tirrell and Andrea Troncoso have been accepted as charter members, recognizing that their training and education meet the professional statewide standards expected in the field of forensic interviewing.
A children’s advocacy center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a safe place for children to report abuse. WCCAC is one of 61 such centers in Texas. Each center hires trained interviewers who talk to children and record their statements. The interview must be conducted in a neutral environment and be non-leading. In addition, the interviewer must accommodate the child’s vocabulary and use age-appropriate questions.
PSFI, located in Austin as an arm of Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, the statewide oversight organization, sets professional standards and best practices for this very specialized group of professionals working in the child abuse field. Membership requirements for the society include a four-year degree, official designation as a forensic interviewer at a local advocacy center in Texas, continuing education, and peer review by other interviewers.
Ms. Wall, the senior interviewer at WCCAC, has conducted over 900 interviews in the last four years on a variety of cases involving child sexual and physical abuse, neglect and those children that witnessed a crime. Ms. Tirrell and Ms. Troncoso have been with the Center for six months and have conducted a combined 177 interviews.
“The Board of Directors for the Children’s Advocacy Center is very proud that our forensic interviewers have been accepted into this professional statewide society,” said John Bradley, who serves as District Attorney and as President of the Board of Directors for WCCAC. “These interviews are critical to protecting children and to a successful prosecution.”
The WCCAC recently moved into a new 7,500 square foot center, located on SE Inner Loop, outside Georgetown. The new center tripled the rooms available for forensic interviewing. Each of the rooms also has state-of-the-art digital recording equipment and provides closed-circuit viewing of the interview for investigators and social workers assisting in the investigation of child abuse.
For more information about the Center or how you can help, please visit our website www.wilcocac.org or call Executive Director Jerri Jones at 512-943-3701.
December 07, 2007
Leander Child Molester Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison
Monico Gonzales, 34, of Leander, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child. Judge Ken Anderson (368th District Court) convicted Gonzales and sentenced him to 40 years in prison.
In July 2007, a 12-year old Leander girl disclosed to her mother that Gonzales had been forcing her to perform oral sex on him. Leander Police Department Detective A.J. Keirn had the child interviewed at the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center. Gonzales eventually confessed to police that he had been sexually abusing the child for several months. He also confessed to his wife.
Gonzales also admitted to police that he had been giving rides to school to a middle school girl in the neighborhood. However, police have not been able to identify that child in order to investigate the case further. “We are hoping that anyone with information about this unknown child will come forward,” said District Attorney John Bradley. “Any other child harmed by this criminal should no longer be afraid and can be kept safe through the Children’s Advocacy Center.”
Anyone with information about Monico Gonzales can call Det. A.J. Keirn with the Leander Police Department. Gonzales is not eligible for parole for at least 20 years.
December 04, 2007
Grand Jury Indicts Georgetown Police Officer
A grand jury indicted Jimmy Lewis Fennell, Jr., (dob 12/25/72) for three felony and one misdemeanor crimes. The indictment alleges that Fennell committed the offenses of aggravated sexual assault (first degree felony), aggravated kidnapping (first degree felony), improper sexual activity with a person in custody (state jail felony) and official oppression (Class A misdemeanor).
The indictment arose from an allegation that Fennell, a sergeant employed by the Georgetown Police Department, sexually assaulted a woman after detaining her in connection with a domestic disturbance. Texas Ranger Matt Lindemann and Williamson County Sheriff’s detectives conducted the investigation.
The indictment has been filed in the 368th District Court. Judge Burt Carnes issued a capias for the arrest of Fennell and assigned a bail in the amount of $250,000. Fennell was taken into custody. Judge Carnes will soon set the case for an initial appearance date.
No further details of the investigation will be released until the case is resolved in court. “To make sure that this case can be heard by Williamson County citizens without any predetermined opinions,” said District Attorney John Bradley, “all details will be presented in court during the trial.”
October 23, 2007
Grand Opening for New Children’s Advocacy Center
Children’s Advocacy Center Photo Progress
On November 7, 2007, District Attorney John Bradley will oversee the grand opening of a new Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Williamson County. The new one million dollar facility with 7,500 square footage of space is located at 1811 S.E. Inner Loop outside Georgetown (in front of the Juvenile Justice Center). A combined Georgetown and Round Rock Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting will take place at 5:15 p.m., followed by a short program at 5:30 p.m. A buffet dinner will be served, and guided tours will be available throughout the evening. The public is welcome.
The Children’s Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organization established in 1997 to provide a safe place for children to report abuse. John Bradley, the CAC’s Board President, and 16 other board members administer the nonprofit, which is funded by a combination of county, municipal, grant and citizen donations. Local law enforcement, caseworkers and prosecutors rely on CAC employees to interview children and teens who have alleged abuse, may be at risk for abuse, or have witnessed a serious crime. Previously, the CAC was housed in a small home at 406 University in Georgetown. Growth in Williamson County over the last decade has caused the CAC to outgrow that home.
The new CAC will permit expanded services, including the use of volunteers, on-site and network counseling and on-site forensic medical exams. Those new services will provide a more complete investigation for law enforcement and stronger support for the children who report abuse.
Numerous Williamson County donors have contributed to the new building. Round Rock Architect John Moman and Civil Engineer Joe Baker donated their services and designed a state-of-the art 7,500 square foot home. Home Builder Jimmy Jacobs donated his services and served as the contractor.
For additional information, contact CAC Executive Director Jerri Jones at 943-3701 or go to www.wilcocac.org.
October 19, 2007
Hutto Officer Sentenced for Photographing Undressed Students
George Wesley Helms (dob 9/21/71) pled guilty in the 368th District Court to one count of sexual performance by a child and 26 counts of possession of child pornography. Judge Burt Carnes found Helms guilty and sentenced him to the maximum of 20 years in prison for the sexual performance by a child and 10 years in prison for each count of possession of child pornography. The sentences will run concurrently.
On March 8, 2007, Hutto Police Department Investigator Todd Looney was asked to investigate a complaint by a 16-year old female student from Hutto High School. The student alleged that Helms, who was assigned to the school as a resource officer from the Hutto Police Department, had photographed her bare breasts while she was in his office on March 7, 2007. Given the relationship of the defendant to the police department, Looney requested assistance in the investigation from Texas Ranger Matt Lindemann.
The student told the officers that Helms had repeatedly asked her to come to his office at the school and allow her to photograph her. On March 7, 2007, when she came to Helms’ office, he propped a chair against the door to prevent anyone from entering. He also paid the student $50 to stay in the office for the photography. Eventually, he convinced her to take off her shirt and bra and pull down her pants to reveal her panties and took several photographs with a digital camera.
The officers seized camera memory cards, a computer from the school and another computer from Helms home and had them examined by a forensic computer analyst. The analyst found the images in files that had been deleted from Helms’ home computer. The analyst also found numerous images of several other high school girls.
“The very person who was supposed to be protecting students shamelessly took advantage of his position for lurid sexual purposes,” said District Attorney John Bradley. “We also required the officer to permanently surrender his peace officer’s license.”
September 07, 2007
Baby Conley Born After Assault Placed Mother in Coma
Dana Conley (dob 10/25/68) gave birth at 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 6, 2007. The mother has been in a coma since February 9, 2007, when her husband Julius Conley (dob 11/24/67) assaulted her in Round Rock. The 5 lb., 3 oz. baby girl was born by C-section and is doing well. Dana Conley’s parents arrived from California to take temporary custody of the baby and arrange for long-term care for their daughter.
On February 9, 2007, Dana Conley drove to a home at 1200 Dayton Drive in Round Rock. She planned to collect her property because the family home had been sold following a foreclosure. Dana, who had owned the home with her estranged husband Julius, was accompanied by one of her sons and Quincy Johnson (dob 12/18/68), a friend. She and Julius had filed for divorce.
Julius Conley arrived unexpectedly. Based on a history of domestic violence, Dana became concerned for her safety and called a Travis County Sheriff’s Office detective on her cell phone. The day before, she had met with the Travis County Family Protection Team and reported a lengthy history of family violence by Julius. A detective talked to Dana and advised her to leave the home. He then heard Dana screaming, “He hit me in the head with a weight.”
Round Rock investigators found Dana and Quincy unconscious from numerous head wounds. They determined that Julius had picked up a 10-pound lead dumbbell and struck Dana numerous times in the head. He then chased Quincy into the garage of the home and struck him numerous times in the head with the same weight. Julius then returned to Dana, who was still in the house, and struck her several more times in the head. Julius concluded the attack by returning to Quincy in the garage and spitting on him.
Both Dana Conley and Quincy Johnson were flown by helicopter to Brackenridge Hospital and placed on life support. Quincy Johnson subsequently died at the hospital from extensive brain injuries. Doctors discovered that Dana Conley, who has never regained consciousness, was pregnant.
On July 18, 2007, Julius Conley pled guilty before Judge Ken Anderson, 277th District Court to the murder of Quincy Johnson and the aggravated assault of Dana Conley. Julius Conley was convicted of those offenses and sentenced to concurrent life sentences. He will not be eligible for parole for 30 years.
September 06, 2007
Sonic Robbers Go to Prison
Carey Meaghan (dob 3/24/86) plead guilty to aggravated robbery in the 368th District Court on Tuesday. Judge Burt Carnes convicted Meaghan and sentenced her to 25 years in prison. The sentencing concluded the cases against Meaghan and Francis Kass III (dob 2/21/87), who were both prosecuted for stealing $17.38 worth of food at a Round Rock Sonic restaurant.
On May 15, 2006, Emily Weeks, 16, delivered a tray of food to two customers parked in a white Chevrolet Impala. Kass, the driver, accepted the food and began backing out. Weeks told Kass that he owed her $17.38 for the order. Kass began backing the vehicle out faster. Meaghan, a passenger in the front seat then leaned down to the floorboard, grabbed a handgun and began showing it to Weeks and waving it around. Weeks became terrified and ran back into the Sonic building and contacted the police. Kass and Weeks drove away.
Three days later, Week’s mother contacted Round Rock police and notified them that her daughter had seen a news story about a white vehicle that had been involved in shooting at an SUV owned by Fox TV News and driven by a cameraman for Fox TV and, based on the description of the white vehicle, thought it was the same vehicle from the Sonic robbery. The shooting incident occurred in Bastrop County and resulted in the arrest of Meaghan and Kass for aggravated assault.
Round Rock investigators located Meaghan and Kass in Bastrop County Jail, interviewed them. Both confessed to the Sonic robbery. The weapon used in the Sonic robbery, a Smith and Wesson 9mm handgun, was recovered during the investigation.
Kass plead guilty to the aggravated robbery on July 16, 2007, and was sentenced by Judge Carnes to 20 years in prison. Both Meaghan and Kass must serve one-half of their sentences before they are eligible for parole.
In October 2006, Meaghan and Kass plead guilty to the aggravated assault charges in Bastrop County. Judge Reva Townslee-Corbett (21st District Court) sentenced both of them to 15 years in prison. The sentences from Bastrop and Williamson Counties will run concurrently.
August 27, 2007
Stepfather Sentenced to 50 Years for Impregnating Child
Tomas Zapata (dob 7/15/75) waived a jury trial and pled guilty before the 26th District Court to the charge of sexual assault of a child . Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield convicted Zapata and sentenced him to 50 years in prison.
In July 2006, Zapata’s 16-year old stepdaughter delivered a baby. Shortly after the birth, the stepdaughter made an outcry to her mother that Zapata was the father of the child and had been sexually abusing her since she was 9 years old. The stepdaughter was taken to the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center and interviewed. The mother was protective and cooperative, assisting Williamson County investigators in recording a phone call to Zapata about the abuse.
Investigators then obtained biological samples from the baby, stepdaughter and Zapata. Subsequent DNA testing confirmed that Zapata was the father of the baby. Zapata confessed to investigators about the abuse and was indicted for five counts of sexual assault.
Zapata was scheduled for a trial but decided he did not want a jury deciding the case. He had previously been to prison for burglary in 1996, enhancing the punishment range up to life in prison.
“DNA evidence and tough Texas laws on child abuse left this child molester with no choice,” said District Attorney John Bradley. “He well knew that he faced certain conviction.”
Zapata is not eligible for parole until he has served at least 25 years in prison. He also faces additional charges in Bell County, where the family lived for some time during the abuse.
July 30, 2007
Family Violence in Taylor Leads to Long Prison Sentence
Jason Peace (dob 8/12/79), a Taylor resident, decided to plead guilty after a jury was selected in his trial for aggravated assault. Judge Burt Carnes, 368th District Court, found Peace guilty and sentenced him to 35 years in prison.
On November 30, 2006, Taylor police officers investigated an assault at a home on Lexington in Taylor. Officers found Ruby Daniels (dob 12/1/84) had been severely cut on her face, arms and chest. Peace initially told police that an unknown Hispanic male came to the home asking for drugs and attacked Peace and his girlfriend Ruby. Daniels informed police that Peace had attacked her with a knife. Daniels was taken to a hospital and recovered from the injuries but sustained permanent scarring.
During an interview at the police station, Peace admitted that he had attacked Daniels with a knife after she had poured out all of his liquor in the kitchen sink. Peace had a lengthy adult criminal history, including a prior probation for aggravated assault in Dallas. He also had previously been confined in the Texas Youth Commission as a juvenile for assault.
“This was a vicious attack by a dangerous criminal,” said District Attorney John Bradley. “With this tough sentence, he will not be able to continue to hurt innocent people.
Judge Carnes also found that Peace used the knife as a deadly weapon. That finding means Peace will not be eligible for parole for at least 17 and 1/2 years.
July 30, 2007
Car Jacker Gets Life in Prison
Dennis Wayne Harvey, Jr. (dob 1/1/79) was convicted last week of aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping after a weeklong trial before Judge Ken Anderson, 277th District Court. Today, the jury sentenced Harvey to life in prison for the aggravated robbery and 20 years in prison for the aggravated kidnapping. He must serve at least 30 years in prison before he is eligible for parole but also faces additional punishment for crimes he committed in Travis and Matagorda Counties.
On November 3, 2006, Harvey approached Amy Baker in Travis County as she sat in her car at the intersection of Boulder and FM 620. He pointed a gun and demanded her car. As she was getting out of the car, he shot her in the chest. She recovered from the gunshot and testified at trial.
Harvey then ran to an adjacent convenience store and robbed Eddie Martinez at gunpoint, stealing his truck. Harvey then drove the truck east on 620 into Williamson County, abandoning it behind a restaurant. Martinez testified at trial.
Harvey then ran two blocks and robbed Kaytie Burk in a Walgreens parking lot at El Salido and 620 in Cedar Park. He forced Burk to drive him to I-35 and Cesar Chavez. Burk testified at trial.
After leaving Burk, Harvey robbed Kimberly Daniels as she was driving up to eat at Jack-in-the-Box on Riverside Drive. Harvey punched her in the head and pulled her out of the car by her hair. Daniels testified at trial.
Harvey was captured by U.S. Marshals and the Coast Guard on a shrimp boat off the coast of Georgia. He still faces prosecution in Travis County for the aggravated robberies involving Baker, Martinez and Daniels. He also faces a motion to revoke probation in Matagorda County, where he had committed another aggravated robbery.
July 19, 2007
Child’s Guardian Sentenced to Prison for Sexual Abuse
Christopher Greer (dob 7/21/78) pleaded guilty before a jury to five counts of sexual assault of a child. The jury sentenced Greer to 20 years in prison for each count.
In 2003, the 13-year old victim moved in with Greer and his wife to serve as the victim’s guardian, who could no longer live with her parents. Greer began sexually assaulting her within a few months. For several years, those assaults occurred at homes in Silsbee, Vidor and Saratoga.
In October 2005, the family moved to Taylor to recover from Hurricane Rita. The sexual abuse continued at the home in Taylor until June 2006, when the victim reported the abuse to Children’s Protective Service and the Taylor Police Department. The victim explained that Greer started the abuse years earlier by offering to give her cigarettes in exchange for oral sex. In a subsequent interview with police, Greer confessed.
Greer pleaded guilty before a jury in order to ask for probation. He put on evidence from a psychologist regarding potential treatment as a sex offender. The jury rejected probation and imposed the maximum punishment for each count. Judge Burt Carnes, 368th District Court, then stacked three of the sentences, making the sentence effectively 60 years. Greer is ineligible for parole for at least 30 years.
July 18, 2007
Husband Sentenced to Life in Prison for Attack on Wife and Friend
Julius Lee Conley (dob 11/24/67) pled guilty to murder and aggravated assault before Judge Ken Anderson, 277th District Court. Conley was convicted of those offenses and sentenced to two life sentences. He will not be eligible for parole for 30 years.
On February 9, 2007, Dana Conley (dob 10/25/68) drove to a residence at 1200 Dayton Drive in Round Rock to recover property from her home that had been sold following a foreclosure. Dana, who had owned the home with her estranged husband Julius, was accompanied by one of her sons and Quincy Johnson (dob 12/18/68), a friend.
While Dana and Quincy were collecting personal property, Julius arrived. Becoming concerned for her safety, Dana then called a Travis County Sheriff’s Office detective on her cell phone. The day before, she had met with the Travis County Family Protection Team and reported a lengthy history of family violence by Julius, who was a corrections officer working at the Travis County Jail. That detective then heard Dana screaming and saying, “He hit me in the head with a weight.”
Based on the statements of two eyewitnesses and the Travis County detective talking to Dana on the phone, Round Rock investigators determined that Julius had picked up a 10-pound lead dumbbell and struck Dana numerous times in the head. He then chased Quincy Johnson into the garage of the home and struck him numerous times in the head with the same weight. Julius then returned to Dana, who was still in the house, and struck her several more times in the head. Julius concluded the attack by returning to Quincy in the garage and spitting on him.
Both Dana Conley and Quincy Johnson were flown by helicopter to Brackenridge Hospital and placed on life support. Quincy Johnson subsequently died at the hospital from extensive brain injuries. Dana Conley remains in a coma and is unlikely to recover.
Julius was arrested near his Round Rock apartment shortly after the attacks. He provided investigators with a recorded and written confession. He was indicted for the murder of Quincy Johnson and the aggravated assault of Dana Conley. Both offenses are first-degree felony crimes, punishable by confinement for 5-99 years or life in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
July 16, 2007
Lying in the Courtroom: Prison for Probationer and Arrest for Father
Timothy Jason Willett (dob 3/26/74) violated the conditions of his felony driving while intoxicated probation by driving a vehicle that did not have an ignition interlock device installed. But the judge imposed a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison because he got his father to lie under oath for him in court.
On November 21, 2002, Willett was arrested for his fourth DWI after he wrecked his pickup truck on CR 201, one mile west of Phillips Lane in Williamson County. Willett had already been convicted of misdemeanor DWI offenses in 1994 (Williamson County) and 1996 (Travis County). And, at the time of the November 21 arrest, he was on felony probation in Travis County for a third DWI, which occurred in 1999.
On December 6, 2004, Willett pled guilty before Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield, 26th District Court. Judge Stubblefield convicted Willett of felony DWI and sentenced him to 10 years in prison and imposed a $2,500 fine. However, in order to provide Willett with a treatment opportunity, Judge Stubblefield suspended the prison sentence and placed Willett on probation for 6 years, requiring him to complete long-term, inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse at the Williamson County Central Texas Treatment Center. In the Travis County case, Willett remained on probation and his supervision was extended for an additional year.
After successfully completing treatment, Willett moved to Florida to be near his family. However, another condition of his probation prohibited him from driving a vehicle unless he obtained a driver’s license and installed, at his expense, an ignition interlock device that would test for the presence of alcohol on the driver’s breath before permitting the car to start. Willett told his probation officer that he did not drive or own a vehicle and, therefore, did not need to install such a device.
On March 28, 2007, Willett was arrested in Volusia County, Florida, for driving a vehicle while his driver’s license was suspended. As a result of that arrest, a motion to revoke the Williamson County probation was filed. On July 11, 2007, a hearing on that motion was held before Judge Stubblefield. During the hearing, Willett’s father Timothy Earl Willett (dob 12/14/46) testified that his son did not violate a condition of his probation by driving a vehicle. On cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant played a recorded phone call, revealing in a conversation between father and son, that the father had promised to lie in court if asked about the driving. During additional cross-examination, Willett’s mother admitted that they had all agreed to lie about the driving.
Judge Stubblefield found that Willett had violated the conditions of his probation and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. A Williamson County Sheriff’s investigator took Willet’s father into custody for the felony offense of aggravated perjury. Willett may face an additional charge of aggravated perjury.
July 12, 2007
Leander Council Member Joins Children’s Advocacy Center Board
At the July meeting of the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center (WCCAC), Vic Villarreal, 34, was elected to the board of directors. Villarreal serves as a member of the Leander City Council and was recently re-elected to that position.
Villarreal has a degree in Government from the University of Texas, has a master’s degree in organization and management leadership and teaches college student about management, business and ethics. He has been married for 8 years to his wife Sandra.
“I delighted we could add Mr. Villarreal to the board,” said John Bradley, President of the WCCAC Board and Williamson County District Attorney. “He will help bring the interests and needs of the west side of Williamson County to the board and maintain a strong relationship with our governmental donors.”
WCCAC is a nonprofit established in 1997 to provide a safe place for children to report abuse. Forensic interviewers talk to children and record the information for use by law enforcement and social workers. The board of directors hires an executive director, establishes policy and approves the budget. The cities of Leander, Cedar Park, Georgetown, Round Rock, Taylor and Hutto, along with the county government, all contribute to the annual budget. In addition, funds are obtained through fundraisers, state and federal grants and individual and corporate contributions.
Over the last year, the board has worked to raise money for the design and construction of a new home for the center. A new, 7,500 square foot center is currently being built on Inner Loop outside Georgetown, financed through a capital campaign that raised over $1million. The new facility will permit the expansion of interviewing services and the addition of counseling and forensic medical examinations. Completion of that new facility is expected in September.
June 22, 2007
70 Years in Prison for 8th DWI
A Williamson County jury sentenced Wendel Glenn Klotz (dob 3/10/55) to 70 years in prison after finding him guilty of felony driving while intoxicated. The jury also found that the vehicle driven by Klotz was used as a deadly weapon, making Klotz ineligble for parole for 30 years.
On August 5, 2006, a civilian witness observed a 1965 Ford pickup truck driven by Klotz weaving on a road headed toward Coupland. The driver called 911 at about 2:45 p.m., just east of Coupland on FM 1466. At the intersection of 1466 and 619, Klotz drove through a stop sign, into a ditch on the right side of the road, crossed over to the left side of the road and hit a fence. The witness also saw that a second vehicle had been following the truck. A female in the second vehicle immediately stopped, walked over to the truck, pulled out a bottle of liquor and put it in her vehicle. Klotz got out of his truck but had to hang onto it for balance. The female was Klotz’s fiancée.
Klotz left the scene and went to his home nearby. A Williamson County Sheriff’s deputy arrived within 30 minutes at the home and talked to Klotz and his fiancée. The deputy had Klotz perform field sobriety tests. Klotz was clearly intoxicated, as he stumbled and slurred his speech. He admitted he started drinking at 10 a.m.
During trial in the 277th District Court before Judge Ken Anderson, Klotz tried to convince the jury that he got intoxicated back at home after his accident in the truck. During a punishment hearing, the jury learned Klotz had seven prior convictions for driving while intoxicated. The convictions were in 1983 (2 cases), 1987 (2 cases), 1988, 1991, and 1996. He failed to complete probation every time he received it and went to prison four times. He had received numerous opportunities for treatment and was kicked out of the Central Texas Treatment Center, a local inpatient treatment facility for chronic drunks and drug abusers.
“There is no excuse for getting into a truck and driving drunk,” said District Attorney John Bradley. “This criminal received every possible opportunity to change his criminal behavior. There is no doubt in my mind that this sentence will save lives.”
May 31, 2007
Driver Sentenced for Death of Firefighter
Riley Kee Shipman (dob 6/23/85) pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the 368th District Court. Judge Burt Carnes found Shipman guilty and sentenced him to 21 months in state jail. Shipman is not eligible for early release and must serve the entire sentence.
On March 3, 2006, Shipman was driving a Chevy pickup truck on U.S. Hwy 183 in Leander. Steven Kincaid, a Leander firefighter and friend of Shipman, was a passenger in the pickup. Shipman was speeding and lost control of the vehicle, striking a tree and killing Kincaid on impact. Shipman left the scene and walked home. Officers later contacted Shipman, smelled the odor of alcohol on his breath and arrested him for manslaughter.
A person commits the offense of manslaughter by recklessly causing the death of an individual or by driving while intoxicated and causing the death by accident. Shipman’s failure to remain at the scene prevented investigators from obtaining immediate accurate information about the collision and interfered with the determination of an accurate measure of Shipman’s blood/alcohol concentration. Successful prosecution of the case for manslaughter, a second degree felony, was unlikely without such evidence.
Recovery of a “black box” in the truck did lead to confirmation through those electronic records that Shipman was speeding at the time of the collision. That evidence was used to support a prosecution for criminally negligent homicide. A person commits that offense by causing the death of an individual through criminal negligence. Driving at an excessive speed can be criminally negligent conduct when it creates a “substantial and unjustifiable risk” that death can occur. The offense is punishable by confinement from 180 days to 2 years in a state jail.
“This was a very difficult case to investigate and prosecute,” said District Attorney John Bradley. “Unfortunately, the flight of the defendant from the scene of this crime damaged our ability to collect and present the kind of evidence that would support a conviction for manslaughter. This sentence for criminally negligent homicide, however, does provide a serious punishment for the irresponsible conduct of Shipman that led to the unfortunate death of a Williamson County firefighter.”
Landlord Imprisoned For Secret Camera in Attic
Jeffrey Alan Gole (dob 5/6/59) was sentenced to 2 years in a state jail for the felony offense of Improper Photography or Visual Recording. Judge Ken Anderson, 277th District Court, found that Gole had violated the conditions of his probation and imposed the punishment.
On May 3, 2005, a husband and wife noticed a smoke detector had come loose from their bedroom ceiling in the Round Rock home they were renting from Gole. (The name of the husband and wife are being withheld to protect their privacy.) The husband entered the attic to fix the problem and found a digital video recorder with a camera installed in the air conditioning duct. The camera was aimed at their bedroom. The husband also found three pair of women’s underwear in the attic that did not belong to his wife.
The husband confronted Gole, who told them not to report the incident to the police. The husband contacted the Sheriff’s Office. Although Gole denied knowing about the recorder and camera when confronted by an investigator, Gole’s fingerprints were found on the recorder. After police seized Gole’s home computer, a forensic computer expert found digital recordings showing adult females using a toilet in an unknown public restroom. The hard drive also contained a program that allowed Gole to remotely access the digital recorder found in the attic. The recorder was set to capture 48 hours of digital video and then record over it the following 48 hours.
On October 4, 2006, after pleading guilty and confessing, Gole was found guilty and, with the agreement of the victims, placed on 5 years of probation and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine. In addition, Gole was ordered to serve 120 days in the county jail, submit to a sex offender evaluation, have no contact with the victims, pay for any therapy and counseling, possess no sexual devices, computers, pornography, or digital equipment, have no access to the Internet and notify any renters of his ongoing supervision for a felony crime.
On May 21, 2007, Judge Anderson found that Gole had ingested cocaine on at least three occasions and had accessed the Internet from a computer without proper authorization. Judge Anderson revoked the probation and imposed the maximum punishment of 2 years in a state jail. Gole is not eligible for parole and will serve every day of that sentence.
Jury Sends Cedar Park Drunk Driver to Prison
Cedar Park resident Tina Hargrove, 40, was sentenced to 5 and one-half years in prison by a jury after being convicted of intoxication assault, a 3rd degree felony with a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison. The jury also found that Hargrove used a deadly weapon – her vehicle. That means she must serve at least one half of the sentence before she is eligible for parole.
On November 6, 2005, Hargrove was driving southbound in a northbound lane of Parmer Lane near Avery Ranch. She had been drinking heavily and had a blood/alcohol concentration of nearly three times the legal limit of .08. She had a head-on collision with a car driven northbound on Parmer Lane by Phyllis Henkelman of Georgetown. Henkelman suffered a broken femur, elbow, pelvis and numerous other injuries. She had to be cut from the vehicle and was flown by helicopter to Brackenridge Hospital for treatment.
Hargrove pled not guilty and asked the jury for probation after being found guilty. Prosecutors presented testimony from Phyllis Henkelman, along with her husband who was driving in a separate car. They were returning from their daughter’s wedding when Hargrove caused the collision. Hendelman lost all memory of the wedding as a result of her injuries. The jury also learned that Hargrove had a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated in Dallas.
“Drunks in cars are dangerous,” said District Attorney John Bradley. “And drunk drivers should know that Williamson County juries will hold them accountable for the inexcusable damage they cause to innocent drivers. There is a simple solution: don’t drink and drive.”
May 14, 2007
2007 CAC Golf Tournament a Huge Success
The 5th Annual Golf Tournament for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Williamson County, held at the Avery Ranch Golf Course, sold out for the second year in a row and received a surprise contribution toward the construction of a new building. The tournament brought in over $20,000 in donations from area businesses and players.
For the fifth year, Developer Bob Wunsch and Avery Ranch donated the green and cart fees for the tournament, providing even more opportunity for the Center to fund additional services for abused children. Numerous local businesses and individuals donated gift certificates and sponsorships for the 112 players.
The big surprise of the day, though, came at the end of the tournament. “At the awards dinner, we received a contribution of $100,000 from the Happy Davis Foundation, to assist in the construction of our new facility,” said Williamson County District Attorney and Board President John Bradley. The check was presented by Jill and Jeff Davis, who represented their grandfather who is the namesake for the foundation, located in Weatherford, Texas. Kris Davis, the sister of Jill and Jeff and executive director of the Happy Davis Foundation, recently launched The Vineyard, an upscale housing venture in Florence that will include a winery and equestrian trails.
The CAC is a nonprofit organization designed to provide a safe place for children to report abuse and receive counseling and medical examinations. The CAC opened in 1997 and now sees over 400 children and thousands of family members for services every year. A new 7,500 square foot facility, with a construction budget of $1.2 million and located on Inner Loop outside of Georgetown, is scheduled to open October 2006.
Anyone interested in donating to the CAC should contact Executive Director Jerri Jones at 930-1933.
May 08, 2007
District Attorney Receives Award at Victim Conference
At the annual Texas Crime Victim Clearinghouse (TCVC) conference in Austin, Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley received the 2007 Danny Hill Award as an outstanding prosecutor upholding victims’ rights. The award is presented each year to a prosecutor who shows special attention to the needs of victims of crime.
TCVC provides leadership and coordination for the improvement of services for victims of crime. The organization also sponsors an annual training conference for victims, criminal justice professionals, law enforcement and victim services providers. For more information, go to http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/victim/victim-clearinghs.htm.
During the presentation, Raven Kazen, director of victim services for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice highlighted the work of Bradley as President of the Board of Directors for the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center and his constant sensitivity to the needs of victims. Bradley also has recently created a Parole Protest Task Force, providing key information to the Parole Board for the denial of early release of inmates who have been convicted and sentenced for violent crimes.