Bowie County jury gives con-woman 55 years for scamming disabled man last year

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A Texarkana woman was sentenced to 55 years this afternoon for scamming a disabled man last March.

Karen Paroline, 51, was convicted Wednesday of exploitation of a disabled person after less than 30 minutes of deliberations. Thursday the jury returned to the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston, Texas, to decide her fate.

The jury of five women and seven men was informed of Paroline’s lifetime of criminal conduct. Paroline has been convicted of theft, burglary, robbery, credit card abuse, retaliation, terroristic threats, and drug possession, to name a few. Because of her status as a habitual offender, Paroline faced a minimum of 25 years.

First Assistant District Attorney Mike Shepherd asked the jury to give Paroline at least 50.

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“She has chosen for the past 30 years to leave a line of victims in her wake. We have given her every opportunity to change,” Shepherd argued. “But as you know we can’t change people, they have to change themselves.”

Assistant District Attorney Katie Carter argued that Paroline’s days of receiving second chances need to end.

“She has had chance after chance after chance, year after year and all she does when she’s back on the street is take advantage of somebody else. Ms. Paroline hasn’t learned,” Carter argued.

Paroline approached Sherman Prewitt, who suffers from autism, at a Texaco station in Hooks, Texas in March 2015. Prewitt offered to buy Paroline $5 in gas but ended up with zeroed out bank balance after Paroline took him to another convenience store and two Walmarts and used his debit card to buy things for herself and take out cash. Once Prewitt’s card was declined, Paroline abandoned him at Walmart in Texarkana, Texas.

Witnesses testified that Prewitt is a trusting person who needs his family’s help to stay healthy and safe. Prewitt receives disability payments from the government and works about an hour daily at the Dairy Queen in Hooks sweeping the parking lot. He cannot drive a car though he does ride an “adult trike.”

Shepherd and Carter asked the jury to sentence Paroline to enough time that she will not have the opportunity to victimize another vulnerable person, and they did.

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