Mother of 2004 beating victim protests parole for attacker

Wells launches letter campaign, asks for help in seeing prison sentence carried out

By FAITH HUFFMAN,| News-Telegram News Editor

April 9, 2008 - The mother of a man who was beaten with a baseball bat and "left on a country road to die" in Hopkins County more than three years ago is appealing to community members to ask the state parole board to reconsider its tentative approval to release one of the men convicted in the near-fatal assault.

District Attorney Martin Braddy and other local law enforcement officials were on hand to today to show support for Elaine Wells and other family members as they stood outside the Hopkins County Courthouse asking others to join their campaign.

Mrs. Wells said she was recently notified that Juan Carlos Gonzales Garcia, who pleaded guilty to the November 2004 assault of Marcus Vaughn Wells in exchange for a 5-year prison sentence, is "tentatively approved" to be released from prison on parole within the next 30 days.

She started an e-mail and letter campaign in hopes others will join her efforts by sending a letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking that Garcia be required to complete his prison sentence before being released.

District Attorney Braddy said he believes Garcia to be a "violent man" who should be required to serve the full term of his sentence.

"This defendant was given a five-year sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon," Elaine Wells notes in the "Take Action" letter she handed out Wednesday morning and has e-mailed to a number of individuals and churches. "He has served approximately half of this sentence. Marcus Wells will suffer a lifetime of disabilities due to the injuries he received that November night. ... Due to the violent nature of the crime, parole must be denied."

Eight men were convicted of various levels of involvement in the conspiracy stemming from a vendetta one man claimed against Marcus Wells, then 18, who was lured to a county road, dragged from his pickup, severely beaten with a baseball bat and "left on a country road to die," according to Braddy.

Marcus Wells was found by a motorist and flown to East Texas Medical Center, where he was treated for an open skull fracture which caused "traumatic brain injury," as well as other injuries. He spent months in the hospital and in therapy following the attack.

Mrs. Wells said that her son sustained disabilities as a result off the beating, which occurred three days before his 19th birthday. Now 22, Marcus Wells is back at work at a "good job" with a medical equipment company. He also has an 8-month old son, Garrett, and helps his mother take care of his 87-year-old grandmother.

Elaine Wells appealed for help from the public in a media interview this morning outside the county courthouse, where she was joined by her son and other family members, as well as Braddy, Sheriff Butch Adams and several investigators who were there to show their support.

This is not the first time Mrs. Wells has taken action to prevent one of the people convicted in the attack from being released from prison.

Mrs. Wells said she launched a similar campaign last year after being notified by Texas Department of Criminal Justice Victim's Services Division that Fermin Velles, another of the eight co-conspirators convicted for involvement in her son's assault, was going to be released from prison.

Velles was originally sentenced to 10 years of probation for his role in the assault, but his probation was revoked following an arrest in Mount Pleasant in January of 2007.

In May of last year, Mrs. Wells was told the parole board intended to release Velles from jail, and that she and others had 30 days to petition the parole board. A write-in campaign was started, and in the fall, Mrs. Wells was notified that Velles will be required to stay in jail.

Mrs. Wells said there has been a lot of response so far to her efforts to keep Juan Carlos Gonzales Garcia in prison.

Letters on the subject can be sent to the parole board via Mrs. Wells' e-mail address, lanietx@verizon.net, or directly to the parole board by e-mail to victim.svc@tdcj.state.tx.us. Correspondence can also be faxed to 512-452-0825 or mailed to Texas Board of Pardons and Parole, c/o Raven Kazen, Direct; Attention: Judy Youngblood, TDCJ-Victim Services, P.O. Box 13401, Austin, TX 78711.

The information must include the name of the potential parolee's full name and identification number, in this case Juan Carlos Gonzales Garcia, TDCJ ID #01335804, State ID #06720998.

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