RUSK – A 60-year sentence handed down Tuesday by a jury overhearing Jacksonville resident Desiree Chumbley's burglary of a habitation case sends a message that crime has no place in Cherokee County, said District Attorney Rachel Patton.
“Violating the safety and sanctity of someone's home is a serious crime, and this sentence sends the message that Cherokee County will not tolerate it,” she said. “It was a very significant sentence, and we are very pleased with the jury's verdict.”
A six-man, six-woman jury took 16 minutes to assess a guilty verdict for Chumbley, 25.
According to a release from Patton's office, the burglary conviction was enhanced to a first-degree felony.
The two-day hearing – which began Monday in 2nd District Court, with 369th District Court Judge Bascom Bentley III overseeing the trial – involved a prosecution team of Patton and assistant DA Andrew Weber. Jacksonville defense attorney Richard Mayhan, along with attorney Edward Estrada of Tyler, represented Chumbley.
Jurors heard testimony from witness Deandre Jones that on Jan. 13, 2014, he and Chumbley “kicked in the door of the home of Al Chavira in the middle of the day and went inside,” according to the release.
A neighbor watching the burglary in progress from her home called 9-1-1, and Jacksonville Police Officer Daniel Burrows responded, the release noted.
Burrows testified that “as he responded to the 9-1-1 call, he spotted the defendant and Jones running into a vacant field across the street from the victim's home,” adding that several officers assisted in helping capture the men in the vicinity of the vacant field.
Chavira also testified before the jury, saying he “identified several items of his property, which were recovered in the same vacant field across from his home,” the release stated.
In her closing statements, Patton pointed out that “the defendant is like the child found with the broken cookie jar, chocolate on his face but says, 'I didn't eat any chocolate chip cookies,' ” according to the release.
During the punishment phase of the trial, “the jury learned that Chumbley was well-known to law enforcement” since his teen years, when, “at age 13, the defendant was placed on juvenile probation for possession of marijuana in a drug-free zone, and later, for burglary of a habitation,” as well as “while on probation, the defendant was defiant to authority, failed to follow the probation rules, and at age 17, committed another burglary of a habitation,” according to the release.
Jurors also learned that “as an adult, (Chumbley) committed another burglary of a habitation and that his adult probation was revoked in November, 2009, when he was sentenced to five years in prison,” the release added.
Additionally, it stated, in 2009, Chumbley was convicted and sentenced to 90 days in county jail for a charge of deadly conduct, and “the jury also heard statements the defendant made about his guilty verdict and possible lengthy sentence, boasting 'they can't hold me for long,' ” the release stated.
According to Patton, the conviction and 60-year sentence “was the result of the efforts of the Jacksonville Police Department and the Cherokee County District Attorney's Office to make the community a safer place to live.
“I believe the sentence was warranted by the defendant's history of repeated burglary charges, and his lack of respect for the justice system, and society, that was reflected in statements made by the defendant the jury heard,” she said.