ROCKWALL, Texas--The sentencing phase of trial for Justin Sanders has been put off until 1:30 p.m. today  because of a missing juror.

A jury found Sanders guilty of murder Monday evening in the hit-and-run death of Texarkana, Texas, police officer Jason Sprague. Sanders is facing five to 99 years or life in a Texas prison.

Tuesday morning 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart released the 11 jurors who reported for duty at 9 a.m. until this afternoon while court staff searched for juror No. 3.

The juror was located mid-morning and will report for duty this afternoon, court officials said.

Sanders, 22, caused catastrophic head and crush injuries to Sprague when he ran him over after midnight June 14 in Grady T. Wallace Park. Assistant District Attorneys Kelley Crisp and Samantha Oglesby and First Assistant District Attorney Mike Shepherd argued that Sanders was so worried he'd be caught with marijuana he jumped a curb and ran Sprague down to avoid a traffic stop.

Sprague was the first officer sent to the park in response to a disturbance call reporting fighting and drug use among a large after-hours gathering.

“There is a reason that (evading arrest) is on the books as a serious felony; to prevent situations just like this,” Shepherd argued. “You can’t jump in a car, evade arrest, cause death and destruction, and then turn around and just call it an accident. If you are evading, everything that happens because of that is on you.”

Look for more information in Wednesday's editions.


Published: 04/01/2014