Cherokee County, Texas (KETK) — A convicted felon from Cherokee County has been sentenced to 20 years in prison on multiple counts of burglary.
On December 5, 2013, Assistant District Attorneys Deborah Dictson and Charles Breaux with the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted Willis Green in the 2nd Judicial District Court on two counts of Burglary of a Habitation. Burglary of a Habitation is a second degree felony and has a range of punishment from two years up to twenty years in prison. The jury heard from several individuals regarding the break-ins that occurred on a piece of land that has belonged to the family of David Trawick Sr., David Trawick Jr. and Harold and Diane Lehman for four generations. The families have cabins on that property that they live in while they hunt and have family gatherings.
Testimony revealed that on or about April 15, 2013, two of the cabins were broken in to. Windows were broken out, copper wiring was stolen, PVC pipes wrapping copper wire used to bring electricity to the cabins were broken and ripped apart and the wire stolen. Circuit breakers and batteries were also taken. It was also revealed that a hidden game camera caught Willis Green walking up the pathway to the cabins late at night, carrying a gun and an empty rucksack. That same camera caught Willis Green leaving the property about an hour later, this time with a full rucksack. The game cameras located on the property showed that no one else had walked up the only clear pathway through the heavily wooded piece of property.
Green provided Detective Joey Ray of the Cherokee County Sherriff’s Department with a statement during the investigation and admitted that he was on the Trawick/Lehman property without permission and went there to hunt hogs, which he admitted he has done before. He admitted to entering the cabins, although he claimed he hadn’t taken anything. He also admitted to having stolen scrap metal off the property before and selling it at local scrap yards. Later during Detective Ray’s interview, Mr. Green slipped and admitted that anything the victim said was missing, he had already sold to the local scrap yard in Alto, Texas. Mr. Green exhibited no surprise or remorse during the entire interview.
After a day of testimony, the twelve members of the jury found Green guilty of both counts. Green elected to go to the Court for punishment and that hearing was held on December 19, 2013 in front of Judge Dwight Phifer.
During the punishment phase, the Court heard testimony regarding Green’s two prior convictions for DWI and Theft by Check and Green’s failure to complete probation in both of those cases. The Court also received evidence regarding two other pending felony cases; Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle and a two count indictment for Deadly Conduct and Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals – Torture. Green had been allowed to participate in a program called Pre-Trial Diversion on the Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle case. That program requires supervision by the Cherokee County Adult Probation office and compliance with several requirements. Green failed that program and the Court heard testimony from his supervising officer that that Mr. Green had once made a statement to her that “If I see keys anywhere (in a car), it’s a gift, a gift from God” indicating he believed he could take a vehicle with no consequences.
Judge Phifer sentenced Green to 10 years to be served in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Count 1: Burglary of a Habitation. On Count 2: Burglary of a Habitation, the Court ordered ten (10) years to be served in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice but suspended that time and placed Green on probation for ten years with several additional probation conditions.
Once Green is paroled from prison on Count 1, he will then have to report to Adult Probation and follow all the conditions set by the Court. If he fails to complete the comply with the probation conditions, Green faces up to ten additional years in prison. Green had no prior felony criminal history and so was eligible for probation. The two remaining felony cases are still pending.
Regarding the trial and sentence, Rachel Patton, Cherokee County District Attorney, stated, “ I am very proud of the excellent job Ms. Dictson and Mr. Breaux did in this case. And the hard work of Det. Ray and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office made the successful prosecution possible. We are pleased with the sentence and believe it sends the right message to the community.”