begins his defense
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–The defense took center stage Thursday morning as the Randall
Wayne Mays capital murder trial entered its fourth day in 392nd District
Judge Carter Tarrance’s court.
While the day’s testimony was not as emotional as on previous days, the
jury learned Mays had one brother who had been executed for capital
murder, another brother who was shot and killed by police while he was
committing a crime, and a third brother who died of an overdose.
Mays is accused of shooting and killing Henderson County Sheriff’s
Department officers Paul Habelt, 63, from Eustace, and Tony Ogburn, 61,
of Log Cabin. The two officers were killed while responding to a
domestic disturbance call at Mays’ rural Payne Springs ranch May 17,
If convicted of murdering a peace officer in the line of duty, Mays
faces life in prison or the death penalty. Mays has pled not guilty.
Thursday, before the jury was seated, defense attorney Bobby Mims told
Tarrance his plans for the day – first calling Brian Ruthven, director
of the East Texas Police Academy at Kilgore College, and then Brownsboro
Police Chief Ron Shields.
Mims told the court the two men would be testifying about a Crisis
Intervention course offered by the police academy and taught by Shields.
Mims said he would also recall Deputy Billy Jack Valentine, the officer
in charge at the time of the shooting, to finish his cross examination.
In the afternoon, Mims said he planned to bring a pair of psychiatric
professionals to testify.
Mims said if everything went “economically,” he thought the defense
would rest Friday afternoon.
With Ruthven and Shields on Thursday, Mims established that Valentine,
Deputy Duane Saunders and Deputy Eric Ward had attended and passed a
Crisis Intervention course less than two weeks before the shooting. All
three deputies were at the scene of the shooting.
The Crisis Intervention course is for “dealing with someone in serious
mental crisis,” Shields, who taught the class, explained.
Shields added when dealing with someone in that situation, “we need to
be kinder, less aggressive.”
Statistics show “someone in serious mental crisis is four times more
likely to be killed by police,” Shields testified. “Basically it (the
training) is a way to safely handle the person without getting the
person or officer hurt.”
Mims asked Shields if the precepts of the Crisis Intervention course
could apply to a domestic violence situation.
“If the person has a serious mental problem, yes,” Shields replied.
After talking about ways to “de-escalate” a crisis situation by allowing
the suspect to talk, and through active listening, Mims asked what the
course taught officers about dealing with someone armed with a gun.
“This course is not about dealing with someone with a gun,” Shields
said. “Whenever weapons are involved, this course pretty much goes out
When asked what an officer would be trained to do if he got a suspect
separated from his weapon, Shields said, “If you have him separated from
his firearms, you use all means necessary to keep him separated from his
With the testimony getting near the specifics of the shooting, Mims
asked Shields if he had read any of the offense reports from that day.
Shields broke down.
“I haven’t had the heart to look at any of that,” he sobbed.
Shields was allowed to step down and Valentine took his place. Mims took
the deputy through his previous testimony, establishing that Valentine
and Mays had an altercation in 1999 while Valentine was a member of the
Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office.
That incident led to Mays being charged with assault on a peace officer,
a charge later dropped.
Despite their previous encounter, Valentine described Mays as “normal,
super calm” when police arrived the day of the shooting.
For the third time in the four-day trial, jurors got to watch and hear
the video recording of the incident from the dashboard camera of
Valentine’s car. While very little but an empty dirt road can be seen,
dialogue between officers and Mays could be heard clearly.
The tape and testimony established that Valentine and Mays were talking
calmly right up until Valentine started to read Mays his rights prior to
questioning him about shooting his gun across the road.
At that time Mays turned and ran for the house. Valentine tried to grab
him, but Mays pulled out a knife and slashed at the deputy. When Mays
made it to the house where the guns were, officers took cover.
Valentine then tried to talk Mays out of the house. After calling for a
negotiator and advising his superiors of the situation, Valentine, along
with Ogburn and Deputy Kevin Harris, managed to talk Mays out of his
While talking, however, Mays saw Valentine trying to get between him and
the home, so he turned and ran for the house again.
Valentine tried to stop him, but tripped on a garden hose. With Mays
back in the house, with the guns again, Valentine was left trapped
against a wall between the home’s windows.
It wasn’t long after that the shooting began.
Thursday, the tape was stopped before the actual shooting started,
something that brought sobs from several in the courtroom earlier in the
Mims took Valentine step-by-step through the events leading up to the
shooting, including when Mays shouted from inside his home, “Y’all can
kill me. Y’all killed three of my brothers.”
When Mims asked Valentine what that meant, Valentine said he later found
out through Internet research and through other deputies that Mays’
brothers had been executed for murder, shot and killed during a crime,
and died of an overdose.
“I don’t really know the details,” he said.
A search of Texas Department of Criminal Justice records on-line
actually turned up two men with the last name Mays being executed in
Texas: Noble D. Mays and Rex Mays. It was not known at presstime if
Randall Mays was related to either of them.
Later, Mims asked Valentine if Mays was acting reasonably the day of the
“It’s reasonable to not want to go to jail,” Valentine said. “It’s not
reasonable to shoot police.”
After Miims passed the witness, District Attorney Donna Bennett asked
the deputy, now that he had thought about the incident for a year, if he
could have done anything differently that day.
“The only thing I could have changed is if I’d shot earlier,” he said.
With that, the court recessed for lunch with expectations of hearing
from the psychiatrists in the afternoon. That testimony came after The
Before that testimony, however, Tarrance was expected to rule on a
motion in limine (a prohibition against certain evidence) regarding
The defense would like to look into that issue, while the prosecution
has objected to mental illness being brought up in the guilt/innocence
portion of the trial.
Before breaking for lunch, again with the jury out of the courtroom,
Tarrance told attorneys he had “wrestled with (the motion) for days.” He
said he wanted to give them an idea what he was thinking so they could
plan their arguments.
After discussing two cases which were cited in the motion, and their use
as a “justification” or defense, he said, “I just don’t know whether
those apply in this case.”
He added, “Obviously, the court does not want to make a reversible
Court pool photo/Charles Stiff
Randall Wayne Mays
New Kemp High School breaks ground
By Barbara Gartman
Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–Regardless of the dreary skies and threatening weather, “It’s a
beautiful day,” Dr. Peter Running said Wednesday at the official
groundbreaking for the new Kemp High School.
Dignitaries from Kaufman County, the city of Kemp and nearby communities
were sent invitations to the event.
Students and staff from both the high school and junior high, along with
parents watched the impressive ceremony inaugurating construction of the
Speakers included Running, Kemp Independent School District board
president Keith Foisey and assistant superintendent Sam Swierc, who
welcomed those in attendance.
Other speakers were seventh grader Nicole Cox, representing the first
class of students to go the full four years and graduate from the new
high school, and high school sophomore Sharda Bettis, representing the
first class to graduate from the new facility.
“It’s easy to have a vision. It’s hard to push it to a new reality,”
Foisey said, as he credited Running with seeing the $23 million bond
election to its fruition back in May, 2007.
The voters approved the bond package “overwhelmingly,” Foisey said, and
Voters approved the bond package by almost a two-to-one margin, 358-121.
Running thanked school board members for their unpaid long hours put
toward getting the high school approved.
“They were in the right place for the right reasons,” Running said.
Running also commended the staff and teachers for their work.
“Our kids (in extra curricular activities) are going to state, our Texas
Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) scores are going up. KISD is
success under construction,” Running said.
The Kemp High School band opened the ceremony with “The Star Spangled
Banner,” and then played several lively numbers, including the school
Cox said she and her classmates were the first kindergarten class to go
through the Primary School when it was new, and are now looking forward
to their time in the new high school.
Both girls, Cox and Bettis, thanked those involved for the future
Monitor Photo/Barbara Gartman
School officials, staff and students join in the ceremonial
the new Kemp High School Wednesday. Pictured lifting the golden shovels
(from left) incoming high school principal Kurt Schumacher, architect
Fromberg, construction manager at risk Blair Williams, KHS sophomore
Bettis, seventh-grader Nicole Cox, assistant superintendent Sam Swierc,
superintendent Dr. Peter Running, board president Keith Foisey, board
president Steve Greenhaw, secretary Don Jedlicka, and trustees Scott
Jim Collinsworth, Curtis Donovan and Harvey McFaul.
HC Jail addition to get cableTV
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS–The Henderson County Commissioners agreed to adding 30 cable TV
outlets to the addition to the jail Tuesday.
The county provides cable TV services to inmates in lieu of printed
newspapers and periodicals, which can become a safety and clutter issue,
Lt. B.E. Kinder explained.
“Inmates can make ‘shanks’ out of paper that can harm others,” he said.
Suddenlink will be installing the outlets for $5,000.
Commissioners approved the recommendation to subscribe to the basic
extended package of 76 channels, versus basic service of 26 channels, to
insure against civil liability.
The wider range of channels provides more news outlets, as well as
cultural and religious programing, Kinder said.
The subscription rate is $248 per month, he said.
On a related issue, commissioners approved a one-year contract with
Infinity Networks to provide telephone hardware to the jail addition, at
its own expense, estimated at $60,000-$70,000.
The contract goes out to bid after that, as Infinity Networks will have
held the contract for five years.
Should the contract be awarded to some other company, Infinity Networks
will retrieve their equipment and the bid winner will replace it with
their own, commissioners heard.
In other business, commissioners:
• increased the mileage reimbursement rate for county employees
traveling on county business from 44 cents per mile to 50.5 cents per
mile starting May 5. The new rate was adopted by the state of Texas in
• increased the reimbursement amount to funeral homes for pauper burial
from $200 to $500. The $200 reimbursement was set by commissioners in
• decided to rebid trash-hauling services. Current trash hauler Total
Sanitation has increased its rates 13 percent and added other fees for
• approved budget amendments as presented.
• paid bills totaling $638,908.92.