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June 1, 2023 - Two tragic deaths which have occurred in the Shelby County area over the past couple years have reached resolutions in their cases involving the accused, and families left behind in both situations are not happy with the outcomes.
The first incident, which took place in February 2020, involved the death of Angel De La Rosa, who was 16 at the time, at the hands of Heston Avery, who was then 17, through the discharge of a shotgun.
Avery was initially charged with criminally negligent homicide, state jail felony.
According to court documents, through a plea agreement with the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office Avery pleaded guilty to manslaughter, 2nd degree felony, on January 23, 2023. He received 10 years deferred adjudication probation, a fine of $6,000 at a rate of $55 a month, court costs of $300, 60 hours of community service restitution. He’s required to pay a fee of $60 a month to the supervision officer of the court, and a fee of $5 per month for substance abuse testing.
Restitution was not assessed, nor a Court Appointed Attorney fee.
The next incident took place in May 2022, involving the death of Kelton Tremaine Jones, who was 22, also the result of the discharge of a firearm but this time at the hands of Reggie Lamar Daniels, who was 22 as well at the time.
Daniels was charged with manslaughter, 2nd degree felony, and according to court documents on April 19, 2023, he pleaded guilty and agreed to a plea bargain with the Shelby County District Attorney’s office of eight years deferred adjudication probation, a fine of $3,000 at a rate of $35 per month, court costs of $300. Daniels is also required to pay a supervision fee of $60 per month to the supervision officer of the court. Daniels is also required to perform 100 hours of community service at a minimum rate of 16 hours per month and during the period of community supervision, pay a fee 0f $5 per month for substance abuse testing.
Restitution was not assessed, and a Court Appointed Attorney fee was not required.
In both instances family members of the victims have reached out to Shelby County Today and expressed upset over the outcomes of the cases.
Shelby County Today made contact with Karren Price, Shelby County District Attorney, regarding the concerns of family.
“They seem to believe that they have some control over the outcome. And, I understand the misconception, but it's still a misconception that they have control of the outcome and that I represent them individually, because that's not the law,” said Price. “That's hard, and I get it completely. But what they all fail to understand is that I have to make these decisions on evidence, not on what I want to be the outcome.”
Price referred to the Avery case in which he agrred to probation, and she said she had explained that to the De La Rosa family; however, she says they couldn’t accept that as even a potential outcome.
“I understand that their son, their baby's gone. I get it. But they can't, and I understand that, but I can't change that,” said Price.
Although, the outcome may not have been what the families were seeking in both cases, Price suggests that it’s more than would have resulted when presented to a jury.
“I waited a year for Ms. De La Rosa to come to grips with it and asked her, talk to the family over and over. I came three or four different times. I contacted her, ‘Please understand that it's evidence and not emotion, that I have to make these decisions on.’ And the evidence tells me that the jury will give him probation, and she just couldn't accept that.”
In the case of Reggie Daniels, while there was an eye witness in that case, Price says there was no one in the car or close enough to the car to show anything indicated that anybody was mad at anything, to suggest a malicious intent.
“I think it's youthful stupidity in both these cases that has a terrible and predictable outcome in both events. But are either of these young men, premeditated murderers? The evidence doesn’t support that,” said Price.
At least one of the families involved has written a letter to the editor (Letter to the Editor: “Gone Too Soon”), and Price responded to the allegation that the decision to put Daniels on probation was somehow racially motivated.
“I have a couple of cases pending that are, absolutely murder cases. One is probably defensible, the other is a straight up murder, and the victims are black in those cases. And, they're on the trial docket,” said Price. “So, I think it's unfair to label me as not caring about black on black crime. I'm fighting it about as fast and as hard as I can under the circumstances. So I don't think folks who actually live here and are involved in this community believe that about this office.”
May 31, 2023 - The construction work on CR 1168 is ongoing and is expected to continue through tonight and tomorrow.
May 30, 2023 - A portion of CR 1168 will be closed 7am Wednesday, May 31, 2023. The section of roadway to be closed is located between CR 1272 and CR 1273.
May 24, 2023 - Roscoe McSwain, Commissioner for Precinct 1, announces the temporary closure of a portion of CR 1490 for needed repairs.
The closure will start Tuesday, May 30, 2023 at 8am from CR 1490 at New Hope Church to CR 1450.
Commuters are urged to take this into consideration and choose another route until work has been completed.
This information will be updated once the work is done.
May 30, 2023 - The week of May 21st through 27th was an eventful one for the Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department with 6 separate calls. Here’s a summary of the week’s events.
Sunday afternoon at 2:33pm a call was received in regards to a man who had been attacked by a dog on Chalk Street. In the process of the attack, it was reported that the man fell and possibly broke his hip. The JVFD medical team responded as well as Allegiance EMS to provide medical attention.
Monday morning at 9:51am the JVFD was dispatched to the intersection of Highway 7 East and Highway 84 East for an oil spill in the roadway. Members of the department provided traffic control while TxDOT cleaned up the spill.
Monday night at 7:55pm a call came in for a tractor trailer broke down in the road on FM 2787 beside Nu Way. Again, the JVFD provided traffic control until the rig could be removed from the road.
Tuesday evening at 6:14pm a page was received for a female patient that had thrown out her back and had lost feeling in her leg at a residence on County Road 3193. The JVFD medical team responded in association with Allegiance EMS to help the patient.
Wednesday night at 8:54pm the JVFD was dispatched to an approximate address where a 911 caller with speech difficulties was requesting medical attention. At first it was thought that the address was in the vicinity of a neighborhood on Highway 7 East, but the search for the patient was moved to Woodland Shores after further communication with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. After knocking on several doors trying to locate the caller, and no more information able to be provided from SCSO, the search was called off.
Thursday afternoon at 12:36pm a call came in for an assault in progress on Morris Street. The JVFD medical team was called to stage until the scene could be cleared for them to provide medical attention to the victim. The Joaquin VFD was later told to cancel their response.
In other news, the JVFD hosted a successful blood drive on Saturday with LifeShare Blood Center, with 36 units of blood being donated. Thank you to all the generous donors.
With that, this edition of the report will come to a close. The Joaquin Volunteer Fire Department hopes everyone has a great and safe week ahead.
May 28, 2023 - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been impeached by the Texas House regarding 20 charges of impeachment presented by a bi-partisan investigative committee.
The action was taken with a 121-23 vote for impeachment of The Texas Attorney General.
Read more about the circumstance involved in the impeachment on the Texas Tribune at the following links:
- God, money and Dairy Queen: How Texas House investigators secured the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton
- Here are the 20 articles of impeachment filed against Ken Paxton
May 25, 2023 - Commissioner Tom Bellmyer announces County Road 4333 is now open for traffic. The culvert on CR 4333 that was washed out on April 26, 2023, during storm conditions has now been replaced with a bridge.
County Road 4333 is now open to all normal local traffic.
April 28, 2023 - Commissioner Bellmyer reports on Friday, April 28, the water is receding on CR 4323, and some drivers can drive through in a pickup truck, but the road is still not passable for a car.
An update is expected on the condition of CR 4323 as the day progresses.
CR 4333 where the culvert washed out will remain closed for possibly the next four days for repairs.
April 27, 2023 - Shelby County Commissioner Precinct 4 Tom Bellmyer reports only CR 4020 and CR 4326 remain to be cleared and should be completed before the end of today.
A few roadways in precinct 4 are still impassable due to water over the road and they are CR 4098 and CR 4323. Three county roads have caution tape out at bridges - CR 4323, CR 4326, and CR 4333.
Bellmyer thanks all those who have helped to clear the roadways and helped those who were trapped following yesterday evening’s storm.
Cleared roadways are FM 947, CR 4005, CR 4007, CR 4009, CR 4012 to CR 4021 to SH 87, CR 4240, CR 4243, CR 4249, CR 4249 to FM 2026, CR 4260, CR 4275, CR 4644, CR 4651, CR 4653, CR 4657, CR 4683, CR 4694, CR 4709, CR 4714, CR 4800, CR 4807, CR 4822, CR 4830, CR 4840, CR 4843, CR 4849, CR 4851, CR 4854, CR 4855, CR 4861, CR 4888, CR 4909, CR 4916, and CR 4919.
May 24, 2023 - Commissioner Stevie Smith reports the bridge replacement on County Road 3189 in Joaquin was completed Monday, May 22 and the roadway is back open to traffic. The county will continue to monitor the transition from the dirt road to the concrete bridge.
May 19, 2023 - Stevie Smith, Commissioner Precinct 3, reports on the ongoing bridge project on CR 3189.
According to Smith, the project has been progressing and hopes are the roadway will be open to traffic again sometime next week.
The public will be notified when the roadway has been opened again. Thank you for your patience.
May 24, 2023 - The Shelby County Appraisal District mailed appraisal notices on May 15th. Your city, county, school district and other local taxing units will use the appraisal district’s value to set your 2023 property tax rates.
Under Texas law, county appraisal districts are required to notify property owners about changes in their property’s value. The notice contains important information about the property’s location, its ownership and property tax exemptions that have been applied to the property.
Property owners who disagree with the appraised value of their property, the exemptions or any other action by the appraisal district have the right to appeal to the Shelby County Appraisal Review Board (ARB) even if they do not receive an appraisal notice. The ARB is an independent panel of citizens responsible for hearing and settling property owner protests. The notice of appraised value includes instructions on how and when to file a protest, a protest form, and the Comptroller’s Property Taxpayer Remedies of which will also be available on the appraisal district’s website. The deadline for filing a protest with the ARB is June 14th or 30 days after the day your notice was mailed.
The Comptroller’s publication, Property Taxpayer Remedies, explains in detail how to protest your property appraisal, what issues the ARB can consider and what to expect during a protest hearing. The publication also discusses the option of taking your case to district court, the State Office of Administrative Hearings or binding arbitration if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your ARB hearing.
Property Taxpayer Remedies is available on the Shelby County Appraisal District’s website at shelbycad.com or by calling (936) 598-6171. The publication is also available on the Comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance Division’s website at comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/.
Pictured are (from left): Mayor Debra Smith; Tiffanny Collins, former councilwoman; and Teri Alexander, councilwoman.
May 23, 2023 - A swearing-in ceremony for newly elected Timpson City Council members was held Tuesday, May 16, 2023.
Those newly elected included Charleston Johnson, incumbent; Ryan McDonald, and Judd “Tuffy” Green. Elected to an unexpired term position was Penny Ramsey.
Marilyn Corder, Timpson Municipal Court Judge, administered oaths of office to those present. Johnson was not present on the evening of the meeting.
A motion carried during the meeting to approve canvassing the results of the May 6, 2023 General Election.
Tiffany Collins was recognized with a plaque in recognition of her time on the council from 2017 until 2023. The plaque read as follows: "Honoring you for your dedication to the City of Timpson. Your service is truly appreciated."
Penny Ramsey is seen being sworn-in by Marilyn Corder, Timpson Municipal Court Judge.
Judd "Tuffy" Green is seen being sworn-in by Marilyn Corder, Timpson Municipal Court Judge.
Ryan McDonald is seen being sworn-in by Marilyn Corder, Timpson Municipal Court Judge.
From left: Jessie Griffith, Steve Cockrell, Quinton Sam Watts, Barbara Pridgen, Cathy Atkinson, and Mike Cummings, Jr.
May 23, 2023 - The City of Joaquin’s new council and mayor were sworn into office during the Tuesday, May 16, 2023 meeting.
Jessie Griffith under the administration of the City Secretary, Casey Anderson, recited the Statement of Officer and Oath of Office. Griffith was elected into office unopposed during the May 6 City Election. He has served on the council since July 18, 2017 after being appointed June 20 to the open council position vacated by Pat Gray after she was elected mayor.
The council gave thanks to former Mayor Frankie Cooper who did not run for re-election. Council member Cathy Atkinson said, “The council would like to present this plaque to you, Mr. Frankie Cooper, in appreciation for the last two years. Thank you.” He was elected Mayor in May of 2021 and served two years in the office. Prior to Mayor he served on the council from 2016-2021.
Next to be sworn in were Cathy Atkinson and Quinton Sam Watts as at-large council members. Anderson administered their Statement of Officer and Oath of Office as well. Atkinson has served on the council since May 2017. Watts, a former employee of the City of Joaquin, is entering his first term in office.
Next, the Council appointed Atkinson to the position of Mayor Pro-tem.
Mike Cummings, Jr.
A thank you was given to Mike Cummings, Jr. for his service on the council from May 2017 until May 2023. Cummings was then appointed by the council unanimously to fill the vacancy, the unexpired seat of Jessie Griffith of one year. Council member Barbara Pridgen made the motion with the reason being Cummings, Jr. was third on the ballot and has experience serving on the council. Cummings, Jr. gave thanks for the opportunity to continue to serve the City of Joaquin. He will be sworn into the position at an upcoming meeting.
Mayor Jessie Griffith and his wife, Lisa.
Action Items Approved in the Meeting: 9. Approved the previous month’s minutes. 10. Approved the financials. 11. Approved Accounts Payable for the month of May 2023. 13. Approved removing Frank Cooper from all American State Bank accounts. 14. Approved adding Jessie Griffith to all American State Bank accounts. 15. Approved opening a checking account at American State Bank for Boat Ramp funds. 16. Approved Texas Parks and Wildlife Recreation Grant Agreement, Certification regarding Lobbying, and Assurances – non- Construction Program. 17. Approved opening a checking account at American State Bank for Southside Bank funds. Tabled Items: 12. Extending water services to account 523.