“Today is your worst day in court,” were the words Brian Allen Tucker heard from 8th Judicial District Judge Eddie Northcutt as he pronounced a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole for the capital murder defendant Thursday afternoon.
In a surprise move Thursday, Tucker told his defense attorney Roland Ferguson he was ready to plead guilty to the charges pending against him. The charges included last week's escape from the county jail, capital murder in connection with the 2011 death of Bobby Riley, theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and burglary.
The plea bargain was the result of being captured, from the escape charge and knowing that there would be new criminal offenses coming from that, according to defense attorney Roland Ferguson, who said Tucker’s fear was that prosecutors would seek the death penalty in the capital murder case due to his jail escape.
“I think, listening to that, Mr. Tucker decided that this was real, it was going to happen,” the defense attorney said. “He had made the comment twice that he had nothing to lose and I believe that's what precipitated the escape — that he had nothing to lose.”
Ferguson also said that in making the decision to accept life in prison without a chance for parole, he was thinking of families.
“He decided he did not want to go through a trial and put his family through the heartache and the victim's family through the heartache because he had confessed originally,” Ferguson said. “I am very satisfied that he took the plea.”
District Attorney Will Ramsay said he felt Tucker's guilty plea was the right thing to do.
“Well, he is guilty and that was the correct plea for him,” Ramsay said. “From my perspective, I was not expecting this today. We were getting ready for trial, and a little bit after lunch it came to my attention that Mr. Tucker was considering pleading.”
Tucker, who was being held on capital murder, theft, burglary and vehicle theft charges, added to the list of offenses last week when he and another inmate managed to slip out of a recreation yard at Hopkins County jail.
Northcutt asked Tucker, on each of the five charges, if he was pleading guilty because he was in fact guilty, and Tucker said that he was.
Northcutt sentenced Tucker to 25 years in prison on a theft charge, 25 years on a burglary charge, 20 years for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, 25 years on the escape from county jail and life in prison without possibility of parole for his role in the death of Bobby Riley.
The sentences will run concurrently, meaning they will be served at the same time rather than one after another. The life sentence will, however, mean that Bryan Allen Tucker will never get out of prison.
“This would mean that he would not be eligible for parole and he will die in prison. He won't be out to hurt anyone else,” Ramsay said. “I was very happy with the plea and the fact that he will be in prison for the rest of his life without any possibility of parole.”
In each of the sentences, Judge Northcutt told Tucker of the associated court costs in each case and that those costs would be withheld from his inmate account in prison.
Tucker will be transferred to the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as soon as paperwork is complete and bed space opens up in the prison system.
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