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Former deputy sentenced to prison in drug case

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Eighth Judicial District Judge Eddie Northcutt sentenced a former Hopkins County sheriff's investigator to serve 15 months in prison as the result of a plea bargain arrangement Thursday morning. Daniel Madison Winn, 35, was facing three multi-county indictments for tampering with or fabricating evidence, diverting controlled substances for personal use and tampering with a witness. Defense attorney Larry Blount said the deal was struck with special prosecutor Gary Young of Lamar County, who was named to handle the case after District Attorney Will Ramsay recused himself. “We came to an agreement and pled to the seven-count tampering, a state-jail felony, and they dismissed the two multiple-county indictments, which were third-degree felonies,” Blount said. “He will do a sentence of 15 months, the maximum sentence is two years, day for day, and the plea bargain we negotiated with Mr. Young was 15 months in a state-jail facility.” After accepting the plea agreement, Northcutt allowed Winn to continue to be out on bond and to report back to the court on July 9 for sentencing. At that time, he will be taken into custody. Winn was arrested in late October of last year in connection with the disappearance of controlled substances, hydrocodone, from the sheriff's department property vault. Winn was in charge of the property vault, and after the drugs were discovered missing, he failed a drug test ordered by investigators. Winn, a 10-year veteran of Hopkins Sheriff's Office, had worked in the department's criminal investigation division for the past year. He was one of two deputies with specialized training in the area of child exploitation. The former deputy has been free on bond following the Oct. 23 arrest. A week after his arrest, a grand jury returned additional indictments against him. At the time of Winn's arrest, Chief Sheriff's Investigator Lewis Tatum said Winn was terminated from his position with the sheriff's department, and said it was disheartening to have to arrest one of his own investigators. “We police ourselves just as we would anyone else,” he said. Winn is to report back before Northcutt on July 9 for sentencing.

Child sex assault draws life prison sentence

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After hearing a full day of trial testimony Tuesday, Eighth Judicial District Judge Eddie Northcutt sentenced Robert Dwayne Allen to life in prison. The 46-year-old was accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child in an incident that occurred in 2005 involving a 9-year-old girl and was sentenced to serve a 10-year probated sentence on July 1 of last year. He was arrested for violating terms of that probation in January of this year. The first witness called by District Attorney Will Ramsay Tuesday was adult probation officer Jerry Beare, who testified about Allen coming to the probation offices in January. Beare said Allen told him he spent three to six hours each day watching pornography and had been doing so for about six months. Beare likened Allen's attraction to pornography to a substance addiction and testified that Allen has apparently lived a double life — one with his probation counselor and the other involving continuous use of porn. The probation counselor told the court that, in the January meeting, Allen claimed to have pornography in his car. Beare contacted the Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office after determining that Allen had violated terms of his probation and, when deputies arrived, Allen told deputies where the pornography was located, under a back seat in his vehicle. He also told deputies that he had more child pornography at his residence. Sheriff's deputy Sgt. Corley Weatherford told the court he went to the probation offices and interviewed Allen in the break room before receiving consent to search the vehicle where electronic devices containing pornography was located. Weatherford, who is an Internet Crimes Against Children investigator for the sheriff's department, also said Allen told him there was more porn, both adult and child pornography at his residence and where it was located. The deputy told the court that Allen commented to him that, “He [Allen] was probably going to go to prison for a long time.” At the home, Weatherford said several tablet computers and iPhones as well as external computer hard disc drives, jump drives and digital memory cards were located that contained “thousands of images” as well as a number of videos depicting children involved in sexual activity with other children and with adults. Also, at the residence, deputies located firearms that Allen was prohibited by terms of probation from owning or possessing. Sheriff's Investigator Charles Humphries was also called to the stand to explain the procedures involved in using special computer software to track and locate computer files, and presented his findings on several digital discs that contained a very large number of images and videos of nude children and children involved in sexual situations with other children and with adults. During the district attorney's presentation, Allen sat emotionless at the counsel table and reading what appeared to be a small Bible, the New Testament provided by Gideon's. Defense attorney Daniel Roper did not call any witnesses and only offered few questions of the witnesses for the state. In closing, District Attorney Will Ramsay told the court the evidence showed Robert Dwayne Allen violated provisions of his probation with continued possession of child pornography. “We believe, without reasonable doubt, that [Allen] has violated terms of probation,” the district attorney said. When given the opportunity to testify in his own defense, Robert Allen said, “No, I do not wish to.” After both the prosecution and defense closed, Northcutt ruled that the court finds true that Allen did violate terms of his probation. After a brief recess, Northcutt found Allen guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child, the offense that had Allen placed on probation less than a year ago. As the punishment phase of the trial began, deputies Weatherford and Humphries were called back to the stand to further identify the places where pornography was found and again said the images and video files contained nude or naked children, children involved in sexual situations with other children and with adults. Weatherford also told of finding a note in a backpack filled with child pornography along the electronic devices, entitled “Sex History” at Allen's residence. Ramsay also called as a 19-year-old female witness, who said Allen molested her in 2005 while in a swimming pool when he put his hand in the bottom of her swimsuit. “He is a cousin's husband, and he molested me,” the woman testified. She said that after that, Allen “thanked me for not telling and said 'I like to look and I like to touch.'” The young woman said she suffered severe depression for years following the incident and, at times, resorted to cutting herself with razor blades on her arms and legs in an effort to offset the pain caused by the molestation. The young woman's mother was called to the stand and told the court it had taken six years to get the case before a grand jury. The district attorney asked if the trial had changed her life and she replied, “That's an understatement.” The lone defense witness, Jack Newsom, who served as a counselor for Allen, said he met with Allen two times a month and that he felt there was some benefit to the counseling. The defense pointed out that Allen had been sexually molested and abused for a number of years, starting when he was about five years old. Newsom said a high percentage of sex offenders had been molested and that almost all of them had an addiction to pornography. He also said that Allen had lied during counseling about pornography. In closing, defense attorney Roper told the court that RAllen had his innocence take from him starting at age five, and that he was pushed into deviant sexual behavior from an early age. “This, in no way, is an excuse for what he had done,” Roper said. “We trust the sentence will be fair and just.” In pronouncing the life prison sentence, Northcutt told Allen “As long as I shall live, I will never forget this case.” Ramsay said that, after a decade, justice had finally prevailed for the 9-year-old victim, who is now 19. “This verdict comes after almost a decade of waiting by this victim and her family,” Ramsay said. ”She always held on to the truth and showed incredible bravery throughout this process. She is the reason that justice finally prevailed. She is an example to us all.” Just weeks before going to trial on this charge, Allen was indicted on five counts of possession or promotion of child pornography. Three indictments allege on Feb. 12 Allen possessed “visual material that visually depicted, and which the defendant knew visually depicted a child who was younger than 18 years of age at the time the image of the child was made, engaging in sexual conduct,” specifically “actual deviate sexual intercourse.” Two additional indictments allege Allen also on Feb. 12 possessed “visual material that visually depicted, and which the defendant knew visually depicted a child who was younger than 18 years of age at the time the image of the child was made, engaging in sexual conduct,” specifically “actual lewd exhibition of the genitals.” Allen is being held in Hopkins County jail awaiting transfer to the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice where he will serve the life sentence.

Yantis FFA hosting pet shot clinic, plant sale Saturday

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Yantis FFA will be hosting two annual community programs this weekend — a pet vaccination clinic and a plant sale.


SSPD Officer Brown wins power meet

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Sulphur Springs Police Patrol Officer Zach Brown won first place in his division and age category at a state powerlifting contest Saturday and was part of the overall top-rated team at the Dallas meet.


Auction Prep

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Sulphur Springs High School students Diego Perea, Hannah Wall and Julio Bustillos spend Tuesday morning creating a mosaic concrete bench for their upcoming annual FFA Ice Cream and Auction on Saturday. The event will feature raised plant beds, barbecue grills, home decor, feeding troughs and other garden supplies. The auction will begin at 6 p.m. at the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center. All funds raised from the event will go toward expenses incurred during livestock and agricultural mechanic shows and leadership and career development events next year.

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