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Evasion brings 35-year sentence

Evasion brings 35-year sentence

January 10th, 2019 by Lynn LaRowe in Texarkana News
Roy Dean Jones

NEW BOSTON, Texas—A Bowie County jury handed down a 35-year prison sentence Wednesday for a man who evaded police on a motorcycle in 2016 and failed to show for his first scheduled trial in the case last year.

Roy Dean Jones, 61, was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Jones recklessly drove a 1998 Kawasaki motorcycle for miles in Texarkana, Texas, and Texarkana, Ark., after a police officer attempted to pull him over at about 9 p.m. July 15, 2016, in the historic Highland Park neighborhood of Texarkana, Texas.

Bo Carter testified that he was working patrol that night when he watched a man with longish white hair haphazardly traveling west on 23rd Street near its intersection with Olive Street, under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter. Bo Carter said he believed the driver was either intoxicated or inexperienced at driving a motorcycle because he traveled with his feet down and failed to manually shut off his turn signal. Bo Carter said he decided to pull the bike over after it failed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.

Bo Carter said that once he realized the situation was developing into a chase, he called for nearby officers to take over as he did not want the police canine kenneled in the back of his cruiser to get injured. Officer Colten Johnson immediately headed in Bo Carter's direction and took over the lead in the pursuit at Olive and 23rd Streets, Johnson testified.

Johnson illustrated for the jury the circumlocutious route he traveled while his sirens blared and lights flashed through parts of Texarkana, Texas, at times driving more than 30 miles per hour above the posted speed limit. When Jones crossed the state line into Texarkana, Ark., officers from the neighboring police department took over the pursuit. A short time later, Roy Jones crossed back into Texas and Johnson again began actively pursuing the motorcycle until it once again traveled into Arkansas. Johnson testified that at one point during the chase Roy Jones made a turn in the street and he was able to clearly see Roy Jones' face. Johnson positively identified Roy Jones as the person who fled from him.

Texarkana, Ark., Police Officer Joshua Jones said he followed the motorcycle as it nearly wrecked in a convenience store parking lot, ran stop signs, changed lanes improperly and recklessly moved through traffic, under questioning from Katie Carter. Joshua Jones said the decision was eventually made by a supervisor to call off the chase out of concern for public safety.

Officers were able to take down the motorcycle's tag number during the chase. Johnson testified that the motorcycle was registered to Texarkana resident Richard Turner. Turner testified that "a whole bunch of police" showed up at his home in search of the motorcycle and asked him if he'd been driving it that night. Turner said he told the officers he'd sold the motorcycle to Roy Jones after he responded to a newspaper ad.

Turner said he signed the title over to Jones "for cash money." Turner said he followed as Roy Jones drove the motorcycle to his home and that he then gave Roy Jones a ride back to Turner's house so Roy Jones could get his vehicle. Turner testified he did not know Roy Jones prior to selling him the motorcycle.

The state rested its case following Turner's testimony and Bowie County Assistant Public Defender Sylvia Delgado did not call any witnesses. While the jury was out of the courtroom, 5th District Judge Bill Miller addressed an issue raised by a female juror with the court's bailiff after Turner's testimony.

The juror told Miller that she was "shocked" when Turner walked in to testify as he is a close friend of her mother's whom she has known for 20 years. While the juror said she believes she could be fair to Roy Jones, she did not believe Turner was the one who evaded the police on the motorcycle. Like Roy Jones, Turner is an older man with white hair. The juror was unaware that she knew a witness in the case until Turner took the stand.

The circumstance led Miller to thank the juror but excuse her from further service. A male alternate took her place.

During closing arguments, Delgado argued that there wasn't enough evidence to prove it was Roy Jones who led police in two jurisdictions on the multi-mile chase. Delgado noted that Roy Jones does not currently have long hair or a beard as was described by pursuing officers. Roy Jones does have long white hair and a white beard in the mugshot taken at the time of his arrest in 2016.

Jury selection in the case was initially scheduled to occur in May 2018 but Roy Jones, who was free on bond, was a no-show. A charge of bail jumping and failure to appear remains pending.

Because of prior felony convictions, Roy Jones faced an enhanced punishment range of 25 to 99 years or life in prison rather than the two to 10-year range typically imposed for evading in a vehicle.

"Fortunately, no one was injured as this defendant fled from numerous law enforcement officers from multiple agencies through neighborhoods and well-traveled streets in our community," Katie Carter said. "The jury sent a firm message that this type of behavior where law officers and our neighbors are endangered will not be tolerated."

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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