Lamar County juries heard evidence and returned guilty verdicts in three separate trials the week of January 23rd, according to First Assistant District Attorney Benjamin I. Kaminar.
On Monday, a jury found Lewis Tucker guilty of felony hit-and-run. Lewis struck a pregnant teenager with his car and fled the scene, leaving part of his car behind. After bystanders led Paris police officers to Tucker’s residence, Tucker admitted that he had left the scene because he was driving without a license while on parole for his role in the 1981 murder-for-hire of Jean Wagnon. Tucker was sentenced to 25 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
On Wednesday, a second jury found Billy Naylor guilty of Possession of Methamphetamine, resulting from an incident where Naylor fled from Lamar County Sheriff’s deputies and dropped a bag of methamphetamine while running. After being found guilty, Naylor agreed to a sentence of 18 months in state jail in exchange for waiving his right to appeal, which will save Lamar County taxpayers several thousand dollars in appellate costs.
The third jury found Garrett Whitten guilty of Aggravated Robbery on Friday. Whitten was caught shoplifting from Home Depot and pulled a gun on an asset protection employee who tried to stop him, while threatening to kill the employee if they called the police. Whitten refused an attorney and also refused to speak during nearly all court proceedings; he did not make an opening statement or ask any questions of witnesses. Whitten was sentenced to 16 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young said, “This week, our citizens worked very hard to resolve these cases. Another twenty cases were resolved by guilty pleas this month rather than face a Lamar County jury.”
The cases were all tried in the 6th District Court before Judge Wes Tidwell. Tucker was prosecuted by Benjamin Kaminar and Erin Lewis; he was represented by Carl White. Naylor was prosecuted by Gary Young and Nick Stallings and represented by Jerry Coyle. Whitten was prosecuted by Stallings and Kaminar and chose to represent himself.