Thursday, March 12, 2009







Sex offenders caught and prosecuted
Failure to register and meet terms of probation land two in trouble
Monitor Staff Reports
ATHENS–Two men this week faced authorities concerning their past behavior as sex offenders and failing to register or meet the conditions of probation.
Monday, Henderson County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Eustace man for a first degree felony for failing to register as a sex offender. Jerry Don Wilson, 40, had a previous conviction.
Around 3:40 p.m. deputies Billy Valentine and Jannell Dunnington called at Wilson’s home and spoke to his wife, according to a press release from Sheriff Ray Nutt.
While requesting information on her husband’s whereabouts, the deputies observed Wilson running from a parked car by a stock pond in the back of the property to a wooded area.
Deputies secured a perimeter and called the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for tracking dogs.
After tracking Wilson for more than a mile through the woods, Wilson was caught at about 5:30 p.m. and booked into the county jail.
In court Thursday, 173rd Judicial District Judge Dan Moore sentenced Michael Keith Luera, 22, of Bay City to four years in prison for violating the terms of his probation, stemming from a 2004 charge of indecency with a child.
Luera had pled guilty in January, 2005, in exchange for a plea bargain, which came with eight years of probation.
The District Attorney’s Office proceeded against Luera when it learned of his failure to maintain suitable employment and had engaged in viewing pornography on a computer.
Assist district attorney Lenda Burnett argued that Luera could not pick and choose the conditions of probations he would follow.
“This is a new administration, and we are not going to tolerate child predators in our community,” Burnett said.
“I hope this sends a message to offenders that our office is working closely with the probation department to identify and prosecute those who are not complying with their court-ordered conditions,” she added.

Arrests made in disabled
adult abuse case

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Reports

ATHENS–Authorities arrested the sister of a disabled man found earlier this week locked in a home near Chandler in deplorable unsanitary condition.
Lea Marnell Johnson, 45, was booked into Henderson County Jail approaching midnight Friday and charged with injury to a disabled individual. No bond had been set Monday.
Reportedly, she had run from the house Thursday when authorities came to serve a felony warrant on her husband Roy Adrian Johnson, 47.
He was also picked up over the weekend in Smith County, for an outstanding warrant there and also charged with injury to a disabled individual. No bond had been set Monday.
Kerry Paul Cotton, 42, with a history of mental retardation, is believed to have been kept in a locked room for several years before being rescued Thursday.
The thin and dirty man was dressed in a large sweater and wearing an adult diaper that was loose and full, according to a press release from the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, mistakenly dated Feb. 5, instead of March 5.
Cotton was taken to East Texas Medical Center-Athens for medical evaluation.
Adult Protective Services is overseeing his care as he recovers from symptoms of starvation and dehydration.
Alyssia Johnson, 18, was arrested at the scene for injury to a disabled individual. Her boyfriend Curtis Martin Durham was also arrested at the scene for failing to report a felony offense – the charge is a misdemeanor offense.
Originally, fire marshals responded to the house at 7418 C.R. 3409 on a public nuisance call for illegal dumping.
The property has a large pile of garbage behind the house, Henderson County Fire Marshal John Holcomb reported. Additional charges are expected, he added. “It will be more than a citation.”
Deputy marshal Danny Wilson made contact with Roy Johnson and later found an outstanding felony warrant for him.
Chandler assistant chief James Lehman and Wilson returned the following day to serve the warrant. However, they were told that Roy Johnson was not there.
Permission to search was given and that’s how they found a door with a latch and lock near the top.
Upon entering officers discovered Cotton sitting on a bare twin bed with a scruffy beard and long, tangled hair.
Later, Deputy John Bell arrived on the scene and determined that Cotton was unable to communicate with officers.

Youth minister gets 5 years
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Following an offense that occurred ion April 8, 2008, and was reported Aug. 8, Joshua Neal Ponder, youth minister at First Baptist Church in Mabank, pled guilty to sexual assault child, a second degree felony.
A five-year sentence in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice institute was imposed by 86th District Court Judge Howard Tygrett on Dec. 17, 2008. The sentence began the same day.
The victim’s age at the time of the offense was 16. Ponder was 32.
Ponder will be required to register as a sex offender once his sentence is complete.

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