Category: TEXAS

Not guilty


Criminal Charge: Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
Case: State v. Joe Dennis Winton
Court: [Lamar County][Cause 26115]
Result: Not Guilty
Docket View: Docket sheet stricken because the Defendant was found not guilty.


Mr. Winton was charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender about 10 weeks after he discharged a life sentence in September 2015. He had been in the Texas Department of Corrections for about 28 years. Because of his prior convictions, he was looking at another 5-99 years in the penitentiary.

Lamar County officials alleged Joe knowingly and intentionally failed to apply for an annually renewable license within 30 days of his release. A Lamar County deputy interviewed Joe on videotape immediately after the arrest and got Joe to say he knew he was obligated to apply for this license instead of the normal license of a longer duration – even though Joe went on to explain he just forgot this requirement among the many others he was complying with.

The prosecutor played the video showing Joe “confess” to “knowingly” failing to get the right license, but the jury also heard Deputy Joel Chipman testify on direct that minor sex offenses like indecent exposure do not require registration. During Haslam’s cross-examination, Chipman admitted that indecent exposure CAN BE a registrable offense.

Perhaps it was watching a deputy sworn to tell the truth forget just which offenses are registrable that persuaded the jurors that Joe – like Chipman – may have known the law but simply forgot it in good faith. After sitting in jail 9 months awaiting trial, Joe was acquitted in 30 minutes by his jury.

Paris News, August 7, 2015: Sex Offender Acquitted of Non-Register

Not guilty


Criminal Charge: Delivery of Controlled Substance [Enhanced to Habitual Offender Status]
Case: State of Texas v. Jerry Crabb [Cause 25375]
Court: [Lamar County] [2013]
Not Guilty


Mr. Crabb was charged with delivery of a controlled substance. Because he was also charged with the “habitual offender” enhancement, this third degree felony, which normally carries a sentencing range of 2-10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections, was enhanced to a first degree felony carrying a range of 25 years to life. The State offered Mr. Crabb 12 years in the penitentiary early in the case, then raised the offer to 18 years. Mr. Crabb rejected both offers.

Paris, TX police officers set up a “controlled buy” with a snitch in the snitch’s home. They arranged two cameras to capture the buy, then they told the snitch to call Mr. Crabb hoping he would bring drugs to the home. The snitch did call someone and the call was recorded; Mr. Crabb did arrive at the home some time later in the company of an unidentified man.

The three officers hid in the home while the snitch met the two men in his kitchen. The cameras captured all three men but there was no video of an actual drug sale. When Mr. Crabb and the man left, the officers let them go – no arrest was made. They claimed about 13 grams of methamphetamine were left behind, and they claimed they had thoroughly searched the home for drugs beforehand and none were on the property.

The case depended on the credibility of the snitch – a convicted drug user himself – to persuade the jury Mr. Crabb sold him the meth. At trial, Haslam argued that the snitch called the unidentified man, his dealer, rather than Mr. Crabb because he knew Mr. Crabb was not a dealer. He also knew, however, his dealer and Mr. Crabb worked a legitimate day job together and that the dealer would have to get a ride to the home. Haslam argued this is why the snitch steered the alleged buy away from the cameras so strategically placed by the three experienced officers: the snitch knew Crabb was not going to be selling him the drugs.

The jury returned a NOT GUILTY verdict in 50 minutes.

Not guilty


Criminal Charge: Indecency with a Child by Contact
Case: State v. Acquitted Defendant [F13-xxxxx] [Dallas County]
Result: Not Guilty Verdict

Summary: In this classic case of a child seeking attention during her parents’ divorce, Haslam and iconic Dallas trial lawyer Frank Jackson tried this felony to a jury in the summer of 2016. The defendant – whose name is omitted here because a jury acquitted him – was charged with illegally touching a granddaughter twice during family gatherings.  The jury took only an hour to acquit him after a three day trial.

The early teenage granddaughter actually admitted to a Dallas County District Attorney prosecutor two weeks before trial that she was “uncertain” her allegations had occurred.  While the prosecutor informed the defense of the admission, she didn’t inform the so-called expert who testified for the prosecution that the granddaughter exhibited many behaviors consistent with a sexual assault victim.  On cross examination, this “expert”, a woman with a college degree who routinely “testifies” for the Dallas County District Attorney, admitted the child should have been interviewed by her organization, the Dallas County Child Advocacy Center, after the admission because this kind of recantation is inconsistent with actual sexual assault. She further admitted that had she been made aware of this admission by the granddaughter, she would have told the prosecutor the young woman should be re-interviewed.

The case is just one more illustration of the reality that prosecutors can lose their commitment to truth in the blind devotion to career advancement. And an illustration of the value of experienced trial counsel.


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