New Boston, Texas: A Bowie County judge sentenced a Texarkana, Texas, man to 20 years in prison Tuesday at the end of a short bench trial.
In a bench trial, the judge decides if a defendant is guilty and determines any punishment. Bobby Ray Turner, Jr., 44, aka Bobby Collins and Bobby Compton, chose to have his case decided by 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart instead of a jury.
Under direct examination by Public Defender Sylvia Delgado, Turner claimed he was unaware that his co-defendant, William Jason Alison, 34, was committing burglary May 24 when he removed tools, lawn equipment and other items from Sean Reynolds’ garage in the 400 block of Clara Sorsby lane on the morning of May 24. Turner laid all the blame for the theft on Alison but Lockhart found his story unbelievable.
Reynolds testified under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Lauren Richards that he came home from a quick trip to the store to find a strange pickup and two men, one white and one black, standing in his driveway. Reynolds said his garage door had been pried open and that the white stranger was holding his leaf blower.
Reynolds said that he held a handgun as he confronted the white man who begged him not to call 911 because of his wife and kids. Reynolds testified that the other man got in the pickup and that seconds later the two drove away. But moments later the men returned and the white man, allegedly Alison, continued to plead with him before leaving again.
Bowie County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Robby McCarver testified that in an interview after the burglary, Turner claimed he never got out of the truck. McCarver said charges against Alison are still pending.
Turner testified that he was at a friend’s in Nash, Texas, when Alison, whom he’d only recently met, stopped by. Turner said he asked Alison to take him to get something to eat and the two left together. Turner said he took over driving the truck because Alison was falling asleep behind the wheel. Turner said Alison wanted him to stop by a house in Bowie County to pick up some yard equipment from a friend.
Turner said he backed into Reynolds’ garage and got out and into the passenger seat where he sat texting on a phone and sipping a bottle of water. Turner said he was surprised when Reynolds confronted Alison with a gun and that Alison drove back to Reynolds’s house because Turner complained that he needed to straighten out the “misunderstanding.”
Deputy Nicholas Moses testified that he spotted the truck in a wooded area not far from Reynolds’ home shortly after 9:30 a.m. Moses said he was able to arrest Alison but could not find Turner.
Under cross examination by Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp, Turner denied that his story about staying in the truck when interviewed by McCarver changed to having moved from the driver’s to passenger’s seat after hearing Reynolds testify that he was standing in the driveway when he pulled up.
“And why did you run? If you didn’t do anything wrong, why flee,” Crisp asked.
Turner claimed he was afraid of being sent to jail for violating his probation.
“Didn’t they find you in a chicken coop,” Crisp asked.
Turner described the place where search hounds from a nearby prison found him as a shed.
“Did you have permission to be in that shed,” Crisp asked. “Were you planning to take stuff from there too?”
Lockhart told Turner his story about going to get food didn’t make sense.
“I grew up about two blocks from there,” Lockhart said. “There aren’t really many places to eat in that area.”
Lockhart also noted that photos of the pickup’s contents showed a pair of bolt cutters stuck next to the driver’s seat and other tools commonly used in burglaries. Reynolds’ property, including DVDs, a tool box and a power drill, were found in the truck as well.
Crisp listed numerous convictions for theft, robbery, vehicle theft, theft from a person and possession of a controlled substance on Turner’s criminal record.
When Lockhart announced his finding of guilt in Turner’s case, the judge told him, “It’s just not believable.”