Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

June 11, 2013

Lengthy prison terms are affirmed

99-year sentence sticks for man with 12 DWI offenses

ATHENS — A pair of hefty sentences was affirmed last week by two Texas Courts of Appeals.  The convictions of George Wayne Smith and Samuel DeWayne Colbert, both of Henderson County, were affirmed after both appealed their convictions. 

The 6th Court of Appeals affirmed the 99-year sentence of George Wayne Smith after he was convicted of his 12th DWI-related offense. A Henderson County jury sentenced Smith, 46, of Log Cabin, to the long prison term for an Aug. 26, 2011 early morning DWI on Farm-to-Market 3054 in Log Cabin.  Judge Mark Calhoon of the 3rd Judicial District Court presided over the trial.

The jury of nine women and three men found Smith guilty after 1-1/2 days of testimony presented by District Attorney Scott McKee and Assistant District Attorney Bridget Bateman.     

In his closing arguments to the jury, McKee highlighted Smith’s extensive history of DWI convictions before asking them to send him to the penitentiary.  

In his appeal, Smith claimed that one of the DWI-related convictions used to raise his DWI to a felony was from Oklahoma and should not have been able to be used to enhance his charges. 

Smith’s attorney raised the same issue at trial.  Judge Calhoon did not agree and allowed evidence of the Oklahoma conviction.

Texas law provides increased penalties for repeat DWI offenders.  A person’s first and second DWIs are misdemeanors with the maximum sentence of one year in county jail. A person convicted of three or more DWIs faces felony charges.

A person with multiple felonies can receive up to a life sentence if convicted of another felony. In his appellate brief, McKee argued that although Oklahoma DWI law is slightly different, the conviction was appropriately used under Texas law. 

In its opinion, the Court of Appeals agreed with McKee and the ruling of Judge Mark Calhoon in affirming the conviction. Smith’s attorney has filed a motion for rehearing in the case. 

The 12th Court of Appeals affirmed the 60-year sentence of Samuel Dwayne Colbert, 27, of Athens.  Colbert was first arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine in June of 2011 during a traffic stop by Henderson County Sheriff’s deputies on U.S. Highway 175, west of Athens.  Colbert entered a plea of guilty to the First Degree Felony of Possession of a Controlled Substance on Aug. 23, 2011.  Sentencing was set for Oct. 13, 2011. 

However, Colbert failed to appear for the sentencing and his previous $100,000 bond was found to be insufficient and raised to $1,000,000.

During sentencing, Investigator David Faught of the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office testified regarding the 2-1/2-week search for Colbert which ended in his arrest. 

Faught testified that when Colbert was arrested, he was found asleep with a knife on his waist and a TECH-9 (semi-automatic firearm) under the bed he was sleeping on. That TECH-9 turned out to link Colbert to a burglary of 30 firearms that took place while he was running from law enforcement with the $1 million bond.

Assistant DA Justin Weiner, who prosecuted the case, in closing arguments asked visiting Judge Harold Entz to sentence Colbert to a lengthy penitentiary sentence and in doing so he argued: “Samuel Colbert is a drug dealer that was continuously poisoning our community. As if that wasn’t enough, when he didn’t show up for court, he was running from the law enforcement as a fugitive with a $1,000,000 bond and committing burglaries.”

In his Appeal, Colbert argued that his lawyer was ineffective in representing him. The 12th Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the 60-year sentence. Weiner also prepared the appellate brief.

McKee indicated that almost every conviction from a jury trial results in an appeal state-wide. 

“This office puts a tremendous amount of work into every case we try,” said McKee.  “However, after conviction is when a great deal of work on the case begins.” 

McKee indicated that unlike many offices in the state, his office does not have a dedicated appellate attorney. 

“The county simply doesn’t have the resources to hire one.  Therefore, we do our own research, write our own briefs and argue them in the Courts of Appeals when necessary,” he said. 

 The DA also indicated that since assuming office in 2009, they have never had a conviction overturned. McKee credits that success to the county’s experienced and well-qualified judges on the bench who are very rarely overturned.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 7-23 Victoria.jpg Emotional response given to Victoria's death

    The tragic news of 4-year-old Victoria Wyatt’s violent death set off an emotional response on Monday, with words of consolation for the child’s family and anger at the girl’s mother who admitted to taking her life. But mostly sorrow at the loss of one so young.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif AISD readies for annual backpack distribution

    Athens Independent School District and the Help Center are teaming up once again to provide backpacks and supplies to students in need.
    The annual Back-to-School Bash is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Athens High School gym during the family fun day.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-23 Open house grace house.jpg Open house at Grace House transition location

    Grace House of Cedar Creek Lake, a faith-based transitional home for women, held an open house on Monday evening. The facility for women is 6,000 square feet on 13 acres in Tool.
    Grace House includes a kitchen and a classroom equipped with computers for training and practice, as well as dorm-type rooms for the residents.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0007.JPG MISD approves re-election order

    The Malakoff Independent School Board of Trustees approved their order of elections on Monday, as all five members are up for re-election on Nov. 4.
    President Jason Dalrymple, Vice President Gary Woolverton, Secretary Daymon Sims and Rick Vieregge (appointed to fill Todd LaRue's seat) are the four spots up for the 4-year terms. LaRue resigned from the board on June 16.
    Tim Mattingly, who was appointed in February, is up for election to fill the remaining two years of that term.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif BISD tax rate, meal prices remain same

    The tax rate for Brownsboro Independent School District is expected to remain the same for the 2014-15 school year following Monday's school board meeting.
    Superintendent Dr. Chris Moran recommended the rate of $1.46 per $100 evaluation remain in place, despite a slight increase in the preliminary budget.
    The maintenance and operations rate will remain at $1.17, while the interest and sinking rate remains 29 cents.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif County names those to fill unexpired terms

    The Henderson County Commissioners Court named individuals to fill unexpired terms on two boards during a brief meeting on Tuesday.
    The court confirmed Gregorio Galvan as a new member of the Henderson County Library Advisory Board. Galvan, the owner and operator of Papa Tilo’s restaurant, will serve the remainder of the term vacated by Gloria Glaspy.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-23 jeff howard.jpg Howard named top assistant in Region 7

    The Texas Association of Secondary School Principals recognizes outstanding principals and assistant principals from the 20 regional education service centers in the state each year.
    School administrators are nominated and chosen by their peers within their regions, and then applications from these recipients are reviewed by the TASSP Principal Image Committee who selects the finalists.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Knife-wielding man arrested

    The Athens Police Department arrested a 34-year-old man who allegedly entered an apartment early Saturday and injured another man using a pocket knife.

    July 22, 2014

  • fair Henderson County Rural Resource Fair

    When you find yourself in need of help, it's important to know where to go. The need to know is what drew a crowd to the Trinidad ISD cafeteria Monday morning.
    Approximately 30 non-profit vendors were on hand for the first Rural Resource Fair. The vendors were there to provide information to the public about available resources in Henderson County.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mission Minded

    Eight ladies are in Garland to teach the word of Christ to the area’s Arabic-speaking population.
    Makaye Key of Eustace is part of a group of ladies known as the G.M.A.’s or Girls Missionary Auxilary.

    July 22, 2014