Friday, February 29, 2008

Another win for the home team

Way to go home team. Good for you too jury, not to let yourself be swayed by the poor tale of woe that he was just a misunderstood poor illegal immigrant who keeps falling in with the wrong crowd.

Good police work by Trooper Pack and DPS and good trial work by the Criminal District Attorney Geoff Barr, Assistant DA Von Bunn and Investigator Mark Mault, Kudos.

Man gets 6-year sentence
By Mitzie Stelte: The Herald-Zeitung

A Comal County jury sentenced a Mexican national to six years in prison and a $1,000 fine Thursday for possessing 110 pounds of marijuana. Anastacio Jaimes, 19, was arrested last June, along with two Uvalde teens, after a Department of Public Safety officer discovered the drugs during a routine traffic stop on I-35, north of York Creek Rd.

The DPS officer found the marijuana, with an estimated street value of $110,000, in the trunk of a 2001 Saturn driven by Melissa Rae Estrada, 19, after stopping her for an expired registration sticker.Jaimes, Estrada and another passenger, Michael Hill, 19, all were charged. Hill pled guilty and was sentenced in November to eight years in prison, while Estrada is awaiting trial.Jaimes will be eligible for parole after serving three-fourths of his sentence. Upon release, whether or not it is early, he will be immediately deported according to District Attorney Geoff Barr. Two years ago, Jaimes was deported after being arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon in Austin.

Jaimes maintained his innocence even after the verdict was read. He acknowledged he is here illegally, but said he was unaware of the marijuana in the car. Jaimes claimed he crossing the border and was hiking toward Uvalde when he accepted a ride with Hill and Estrada. Estrada testified that, on June 21, she got a call on her cell phone from an unknown source instructing her on how and where to pick up the drugs. She said three men, including Jaimes, loaded her trunk with the packs of marijuana on Highway 481 between Uvalde and the border. Jaimes, whom she hadn’t met before, then got into her vehicle with the intention of staying with the marijuana until they reached Austin, where the drugs were intended to be distributed.

Jaimes’ attorney, Joseph Garcia, argued that there was no direct evidence showing Jaimes’ involvement outside of Estrada’s testimony, which he deemed not credible, because of her dishonesty during her arrest.“Just because someone is present at a particular location, doesn’t mean they were participants,” added Garcia.

But Barr disputed these arguments, saying “This case is not rocket science.” Barr said two trained officers — each with about a dozen years of experience — found that everything Estrada said corroborated what the evidence was telling them.The jury deliberated for a total of about four hours.

According to Barr, the jury weighed the defendant’s age and that he didn’t have much of a criminal past when making the decision. “I’m pleased with the verdict and believe justice was served,” said Barr. “I think that in this war on drugs, we need to send loud messages to drug smugglers that it won’t be tolerated here in the county, in the state, and across international borders.”