|Grand jury declines to indict in five cases|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
June 28, 2005 -- A Hopkins County grand jury handed up felony indictments against two people last week and "no-billed," or declined to return indictments, in five other cases, including a death that occurred as a result of an apartment complex fire and one for a felon in possession of a weapon.
Those indicted included Russell Lynn Stracener, who was named in three separate indictments alleging indecency with a child, and Shelly Kasandra Shaw, a former Sulphur Springs teacher who was indicted on charges of improper relationship between an educator and a student.
A Hopkins County grand jury last week declined to return indictments in connection with the death of an infant, Carlos Lopez, as the result of a fire in an east side apartment complex in late March.
Charges of criminally negligent homicide had been filed against Joe Willard Thompson following the death, which is just a matter of course with regards to the investigation, according to District Attorney Martin Braddy. He said anytime an incident involves a death, a grand jury is asked to investigate. The request, he said, does not indicate any kind of opinion on the part of investigators with regard to criminal intent.
"Grand jurors decided there were not any criminal charges that needed to be filed on the individual that was the last adult that was with the child," the district attorney said.
Grand jurors did return a felony indictment against former Sulphur Springs High School teacher Shelly Kasandra Shaw in connection with an incident involving a high school student.
The 28-year-old teacher was said to have been involved in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl beginning in July 2004. An investigation was launched after the girl's parents found written and e-mail correspondence between Shaw and their daughter which suggested an improper relationship between the pair.
After being arrested and charged with the felony offense last October, Shaw resigned the teaching position.
Grand jurors declined to indict Moses Robinson on a charge of felon in possession of a firearm.
"It was not much of a case to begin with," the district attorney said. "The firearm was a piece of junk, it was not even functioning. As a matter of fact, I think it fell apart in the police officer's hand when he pulled it out of the guy's pocket."
The district attorney said Robinson had a history of drug-related offenses and had been working to overcome that problem when the weapons charge was filed.
"There were witnesses that made it real clear they did not believe he even knew the gun was in his pocket," Braddy said. "I think the grand jury believed that, so they did not indict."
Braddy said the grand jury's action could help the man overcome the drug-related problems.
"It was one of those where we took it to [grand jury] just because I was not going to make a decision not to charge him," he said. "I was going to let the grand jury do it, and I think it was the proper result."
The grand jury's findings were reported to 8th Judicial District Judge Robert Newsom.