NEW BOSTON, Texas–A Bowie County jury handed down a life sentence Thursday for a Texas prison inmate who soaked a female correctional officer with liquified human waste last year at the Barry Telford Unit in New Boston.
Alonzo Gilbert Guerrero Jr., 25, was serving a four-year term for arson when he covered Correctional Officer Rebecca Smith’s hair, face and clothing with his waste July 20, 2017. The jury convicted Guerrero on Wednesday after less than 10 minutes of deliberations. It took them a little more than two hours to settle on a life sentence Thursday.
Smith testified Wednesday that she is still undergoing periodic blood testing to determine if she was exposed to any disease. Thursday, several other officers testified that they were struck with Guerrero’s feces and/or urine at the Telford Unit during the week prior to the assault on Smith but to a lesser degree.
Assistant District Attorneys Kelley Crisp and Lauren Richards called dozens of witnesses to testify about Guerrero’s prior criminal convictions and about his disruptive and assaultive behavior behind bars. Guerrero has convictions for burglary of a habitation in Victoria and Refugio Counties.
Detective Robert Nichols of the Victoria, Texas, Police Department testified that he arrested Guerrero in May 2016 after Guerrero beat and choked his girlfriend at a Victoria, Texas, apartment complex. Victoria County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Bernadette Vickery testified that Guerrero set fire to an eight-man cell in the Victoria County jail July 14, 2016, because he was angry that inmates were being served cold sandwiches instead of hot meals.
Vickery said the jail’s kitchen had to be closed for a short time because an inmate was caught “making hooch” in it. Vickery said inmates were served “Johnny sacks” which included sandwiches and fruit.
Guerrero received a 180-day jail sentence for the domestic assault and a four-year prison term for arson in October 2016. The following month Guerrero was placed at the Garza West Unit in Beeville, Texas. While there and later at Garza West Unit, Guerrero was disruptive and threatened to assault and kill staff, witnesses testified.
Guerrero was moved to the Telford Unit in January 2017. Telford Sgt. Jewel Shaw testified that Guerrero’s unruly behavior began shortly after his arrival with a refusal to return to his cell. Telford Officer Curtis Rhone said he had to write Guerrero up for urinating on the floor. Telford Lt. Jason Smith testified Guerrero’s refusal to cooperate during a transfer to another building disrupted prison operations, as well.
A number of female correctional officers testified that Guerrero often exposed himself. Telford Correctional Officers Billie Jackson and Rebecca Rust testified Guerrero stood at his cell door unclothed and masturbated when they walked by June 26, 2017, on separate occasions.
Telford Officers Gary Springs and David Walls testified they were hit with human waste thrown by Guerrero on July 16 and July 18 respectively but to a far lesser extent than was Smith on July 20.
Telford Correctional Officer Pam Reyes testified that Guerrero made lewd comments to her and touched himself in front of her. Correctional Officer Paula Greer, who was assigned to investigate Guerrero’s behavior toward Reyes, said Guerrero threatened to cut her head off and rape her when she asked him for a statement.
Multiple officers from Telford, the Garza Units and the Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony gave similar testimony about Guerrero’s conduct. Telford Sgt. Charles King said Guerrero made a threatening statement to him Monday at the Bowie County courthouse when he was transporting him for a final pretrial hearing.
“He said, ‘That’s while y’all get assaulted. For not doing what you’re supposed to do,'” King said.
King said Guerrero was apparently upset for not taking him to the bathroom as quickly as he wanted.
Guerrero’s defense attorney, Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana, called Guerrero’s mother and sister to testify on his behalf. Both asked the jury for mercy.
“Well what do you say when you’ve heard from 31 witnesses and all that evidence,” Richards argued in closing. “What you do here is going to travel outside of this courtroom, outside of this county and through every prison in the state of Texas.”
Richards asked the jury to consider the men and women who staff Texas prisons that came to testify, noting that some traveled more than eight hours. Richards read the names of the many officers who took the stand in Guerrero’s trial and asked the jury for a life sentence.
Crisp emphasized the difficult work correctional officers perform in the interest of public safety and mentioned the testimony of female officers who said Guerrero laughed after masturbating in front of them.
“He thought it was funny. The joke is over today,” Crisp argued. “He’s run into the wrong couple of prosecutors and the wrong jury. Sentence him to life.”
After 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart read the jury’s verdict, Guerrero was returned to prison. Crisp thanked the jury for their service.
“This jury heard testimony of deplorable, dehumanizing and dangerous behavior–intentionally assaulting an officre by throwing feces in her face–and responded with an appropriate conviction and life sentence. This case is unique for our office in that the population we’re working to protect is our local correctional officers, and the population that we want to hear a message from this verdict, are themselves convicts. The message to the inmates at the Telford Unit is simple: we will seek maximum lawful punishment for assaulting one of our correctional officers.”