District court hands out sentences

Several prison sentences have been handed down recently in the 46th Judicial District Court for cases in Wilbarger, Hardeman, and Foard counties.

Brandon Lee Baker, 24, of Vernon, was sentenced to eight years in prison following his plea of guilty to possession of a controlled substance. On January 20, 2020, Vernon police were dispatched to a residence on Stephens Street in reference to a disturbance.

Officers were speaking with several people at the scene when Baker exited a nearby residence and approached officers. Officers were concerned with Baker’s intentions and asked him for consent to pat him down prior to visiting with him about the disturbance.

Baker consented and officers located a bag containing 14 grams of methamphetamine in Baker’s pants pocket. Baker has a previous conviction for burglary of a habitation. He was represented by Sage Seal of Childress.

Florence Cooper, Jr., 53, of Vernon, was sentence to three years in prison for assault family violence impeding breath.

On July 28, 2020, Vernon police were dispatched to an assault report at a residence on Wanderer Street.

When officer arrived at the location they could hear shouting coming from inside the house. Officers entered the residence and found Cooper standing above the victim who was laying on the floor in the fetal position.

The victim had an abrasion to her forehead with fresh blood. The victim reported that Cooper had choked her with his right arm until she passed out. Officers noted symptoms that were consistent with strangulation. Cooper was represented by David Rasmussen of Wichita Falls.

Wendy Brooke Durham, 24, of Vernon, had her probation revoked in a case of injury to an elderly individual. Durham was originally placed on probation on Jan. 21, 2020. A motion to revoke her probation as filed alleging that Durham had used methamphetamine while on probation. She pleaded true to the violation of her probation and was sentenced to five years in prison with the court retaining jurisdiction for 180 days. The trial court will then determine whether Durham should be placed back on probation with a condition that she complete a drug rehabilitation program. She was represented by Angela Baskerville of Vernon.

Damion Jeffreys, 18, of Vernon, was sentenced to two years in prison following the revocation of his probation in a case of assault against a public servant. On Nov. 21, 2019, Jeffreys was attending a program at the state hospital when, without provocation, he punched a security guard in the face. Jeffreys was originally placed on probation for the offense on June 29, 2020, and ordered to complete a drug rehabilitation program. A motion to revoke his probation was filed alleging that he was discharged unsuccessfully from the program. Jeffreys pleaded true to the violation. He was represented by Sage Seal.

Ceasar Sanjuan,28, of Vernon, was sentenced to two years in prison following the revocation of his probation in a case of assault family violence. Sanjuan was originally placed on probation on Oct. 28, 2019. A motion to revoke his probation was filed by the District Attorney’s office when Sanjuan failed to report for probation as required. Sanjuan, who pleaded true to the violation of his probation, was represented by Michael Valverde.

Matthew Brian Dean, 28, of Florida, was sentenced to two years in prison for unlawful possession of a firearm by felon. On July 20, 2020, Vernon police were dispatched to a residence in the Housing Authority in regard to a man asleep inside a vehicle with a firearm. Police arrived and found Dean, who was still asleep with a pistol in his waistband. A records check revealed that Dean had a felony conviction in Florida which prohibits him from possessing a firearm in Texas. Dean was represented by Sage Seal.

Markceasie Owljojuan Hall, 18, of Vernon, was sentenced to six months in the county jail following his plea of guilty to theft of a firearm. On Aug. 4, 2020, Vernon police were dispatched to a residence in the Twin Oaks neighborhood related to two suspicious people attempting to break into a vehicle. When officers arrived, they discovered that a vehicle had been burglarized and they gave chase to Hall who was in the area. A firearm from the vehicle was found in the path of Hall’s flight and identified by the owner as coming from the vehicle. He was represented by Michael Valverde.

Patrick Cole Mitchell, 35, of Vernon, was sentenced to five years in prison following his plea of guilty to burglary of a habitation.

On Aug. 15, 2018, the Foard County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a burglary at a ranch property in rural Foard County.

Deputy Perry Shaw investigated the scene and located a soda can that had been open and left on a counter. Shaw swabbed the can for DNA and took it into evidence. The DNA was placed into the CODIS database and several weeks later a match came back to Mitchell, who was in custody in Mississippi on another charge.

“Deputy Shaw did an outstanding job in this investigation,” noted District Attorney Staley Heatly. “He went the extra mile at the crime scene and obtained DNA evidence that linked Mitchell to this crime. Without his efforts, this crime would have been unsolved.”

Mitchell was represented by Todd Greenwood.

In a Hardeman County case, Dijon Tyrell Martinez, 25, of Quanah, was sentenced to 15 months in state jail following the revocation of his probation in a case of possession of methamphetamine. Martinez was originally placed on probation on December 6, 2018. A motion to revoke his probation was filed alleging that Martinez had absconded from the jurisdiction and failed to report. He pleaded true to the violation. Martinez was represented by Michael Valverde.

The cases were prosecuted by the 46th Judicial District Attorney’s office. District Judge Dan Mike Bird presided and assessed the sentences.

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