I can only start this week off with, "which way did he go?" That's the way I feel after the last two weeks we have had here at the Sheriff's office. We have seen a huge spike in arrests and the jail staff have been extremely busy as well as the deputies. We have a lot to cover today, so let's jump right out and get to it.
The Sheriff's office turned in a lot of hours this past week with a high security jury trial taking place on February 28 and March 1. Preston Lamar Thomas went on trial for three counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a child and was found guilty on all three counts. Thomas was sentenced to 65 years and $10,000 fine on each count and Judge Jones stacked the counts, giving him a total of 195 years and a $30,000 fine. These are the most dangerous kind of trials that we face in our court rooms. I had to pull in every deputy and some reserves as well just for security and then use jailers to assist with the prisoner. I was very proud of my staff and they all did an excellent job working long hours in very stressful conditions. There was no breach of security, no interference with the victims and no major problems during the trial. These types of trials are highly emotional and can be very explosive, and Judge Jones does not tolerate any outbursts in the courtroom and there were none. The prisoner, who had been with us for a year, was immediately transferred back to Comanche county jail after his sentence. I do not house sex offenders or those accused of that crime in our jail because it is very difficult to protect them and do not want them injured by other inmates and the county being sued. Thomas, who is now facing 195 years with chance of parole in 90 years, also becomes an escape risk and I do not intend for him to get away from the punishment that the jury set for him.
I said it before and I will say it again, man, the Attorney General's staff did an outstanding job on this trial and I have only seen this type of cooperation in prosecution two other times in my 14 years here in this county. One was when Rudy Taylor worked in Sam Oatman's office and then here recently when Sam Oatman had hired Greg Conner. Taylor and Conner both had a solid reputation with law enforcement due to the fact that they would actually get with you before trial and work hand in hand with you getting the cases ready. I used to call Taylor the "pit bull" because when he got to court with a case, he was like a mad dog with a bone in his mouth and he fought every case like it was his last. Yet sadly Taylor had moved on and now we have lost Conner as well, which is a hard blow to the prosecution of our narcotics cases. Conner was not here with us very long, but man, was he aggressive and he would listen to those of us who actually work on the front lines. The prosecutor from the AG's office, Miss Von Bunn and Sergeant/Investigator Vance McCoy sure listen and they went to work after this case, which was already six to seven months old and BANG they moved it forward and made it happen. Von Bunn and McCoy both worked hand in hand with us and the victim and this case was a huge success for not only the court system, but where it counts most, the victim. Say what you want, but these cases are not about us or about numbers or stats for grants, but about victims. Individuals who have had their entire lives turned upside down and who need us to work together, as in this case, for the outcome that they deserve and need. I pray that we all can remember why we pinned on the badge or picked up the briefcase and that working together we can make a difference and put predators away.
Well, new subject, we will have to close the Tax Office for a while on March 15th, which falls on next Tuesday. The ladies will be undergoing some mandated training from the state and we will need the morning hours to comply. The office will open up at around one that afternoon and we will stay open until four that afternoon. We have tried to set up our hours so that we are open during the lunch hour (12 pm to 1 pm) so that those who work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday can come in on their lunch breaks and take care of their business. We have set our normal business hours from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday and we look forward to assisting you in any way that we can. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Brandy Lebow, who is the supervisor and my administrative assistant, and Lois Lebow, for all their hard work and dedication to the job. Those who work in the public know how difficult it can be, but those two are always smiling and make the job seem easy, which it's not. Thanks ladies for all that you do.
I know everyone is sick of hearing about this, but the fire danger is extremely high right now and we need to all use as much caution as possible. I know the stress that this puts on individuals who are farming and/or ranching, but we are asking that those who do not have to burn to understand that the burn ban will be enforced. The ones who have the exemptions know what they are and what is required of them, so just be extra cautious. You only have to watch the nightly news to see the damage a wild fire can do and the destruction that it can cause to individuals.
Well, we want to thank those who have called in information over the past few weeks. Those and other tips have led to several arrests and we want you to know we need and appreciate your assistance. We can be reached at 325-372-5551 or 5432, so please give us a call and keep us in your prayers.