District Court proceedings

Recent hearings in the 46th Judicial District Court resulted in prison and probation sentences.

Jason Fry, 40, of Vernon, was sentenced to four years in prison when his probation was revoked in a case of assault family violence. The basis for the revocation was an allegation that Fry had committed the offense of burglary of a vehicle. On Nov. 24, 2020, Vernon police responded to a report of a burglary of a vehicle at a residence. The victim gave a description of the suspect and Fry was located nearby wearing clothing that matched the description. Officers found items from the vehicle on Fry’s person. While burglary of a vehicle is normally a misdemeanor, the charges were enhanced to the felony level because he has prior convictions for burglary of a vehicle. Fry pleaded true to the violation of his probation and guilty to the burglary offense for which he received 15 months in state jail. Fry was represented by Michael Valverde of Wichita Falls.

James Nicholas Harter, 30, of Vernon, was sentenced to two years in prison following his guilty plea to assault of a pregnant person. On Nov. 12, 2020, Vernon police was dispatched to a domestic disturbance at a residence. The victim reported to police that she was asleep when Harter, her boyfriend, woke her up and began assaulting her. Officers noted that the victim had injuries consistent with her statement. Harter was represented by David Rasmussen of Wichita Falls.

Laura Wattenbarger, 38, of Vernon, was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison following the revocation of her probation in a case of injury to an elderly individual. Wattenbarger was originally placed on probation for the charge in early 2020. A motion to revoke her probation was filed when she failed to report to the community supervision office for required drug testing. She was represented by Bethany Stephens of Quanah.

Carl Raymond Clark, IV, 27, of Vernon, was sentenced to 24 months in state jail when his probation was revoked in a case of possession of a controlled substance. Clark was originally placed on probation for the offense in 2018 and a motion to revoke his probation was filed after he was arrested again for possession of a controlled substance on Nov. 26, 2020. Clark pleaded true to the violation of his probation and received the maximum sentence. He was represented by Angela Baskerville of Vernon.

Joe Michael Cerna, 26, of Crowell, was placed on probation for a period of five years after pleading guilty to the offense of continuous assault family violence. The Foard County Sheriff’s Office investigated two domestic violence incidents, one in April 2020, and the other in May. The incidents would normally be Class A misdemeanors, but the charges were enhanced to a felony because there were two or more incidents within the span of 12 months. In addition to the term of probation, Cerna was confined to the county jail for 60 days, ordered to pay a fine of $2,5000, complete 250 hours of community service, and participate in a battering intervention and prevention program. Cerna was represented by Angela Baskerville.

Kristin Wilson, 36, of Vernon, was placed on mandatory probation for a period of three years following her plea of guilty to possession of a controlled substance. On June 16, 2020, Vernon police responded to a call of a suspicious person at a RV park. When officers arrived, they were told that the person was driving away in a vehicle. Officers followed the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop when the driver failed to use a turn signal. Officers asked for consent to search and located a small baggie of methamphetamine. In addition to the period of probation, Wilson was ordered to pay a fine of $1,500, complete 150 hours of community service, and attend an outpatient substance abuse program at Helen Farabee. She was represented by Bethany Stephens.

Alice Salazar Valdez, 44, of Vernon, pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was placed on probation for three years and ordered to complete inpatient rehabilitation at a court-ordered residential treatment center.  On Aug. 20, 2020, Vernon police officers performed a traffic stop on Valdez and noted indicators of criminal activity. A K-9 was called to the scene and gave a positive alert to the presence of narcotics in Valdez’s backpack. A search revealed a small baggie of methamphetamine. In addition to the period of inpatient rehab and probation, Valdez was ordered to pay a fine of $1,500 and complete 150 hours of community service. Shew as represented by David Rasmussen.

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

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