Thank you from District Attorney Greg Willis

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Plano man sentenced to prison; police say he assaulted his mother in her home

AcklinCollin County District Attorney Greg Willis announced in McKinney, Texas, that Christopher Dee Acklin, 46, of Plano, was sentenced to 32 years in prison for Injury to the Elderly Causing Serious Bodily Injury with a Deadly Weapon.

Authorities said that in December 2016, Acklin (pictured) got drunk and then strangled and beat his mother, age 73, at her home in Plano.

Police said the injuries Acklin caused required extensive medical treatment, including skin grafts on her arms and surgery for a fractured femur.

Plano Police Department Detective James Phelan investigated the case.

During the sentencing phase of Acklin’s plea of guilty, the victim testified that she closed her eyes during the assault and felt like she was going to die.

Prosecutors presented evidence of prior assaults by Acklin, including a 2010 conviction for assault family violence against his mother, and a 2013 conviction for assault family violence against his wife at the time.

Willis said prosecutors presented even more evidence of Acklin’s other criminal conduct, including two prior convictions for DWI, multiple violations of protective orders, as well as Plano Police Sgt. Chris Matthews’ testimony about Acklin’s bad conduct post-arrest.

Judge Benjamin Smith assessed punishment at 32 years in prison.

Assistant District Attorneys Kim Laseter and Kim Kircher prosecuted the case, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Robin Laughon and Victim Assistance Coordinator Jenni Ball.

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Hair stylists enlisted to help stop domestic violence in ‘Cut it Out’ program; District Attorney providing free training, luncheon

Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis announced that on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, the Collin County District Attorney’s office will host a “Cut it Out” Luncheon to train hair stylists to notice signs of domestic violence and safely refer clients for help.

Salon professionals from all over Collin County will gather for the “Cut it Out” training and luncheon at The Landing – Myers Park & Event Center in McKinney at 7117 County Road 166. This presentation trains stylists how to (1) recognize the signs of domestic violence, and (2) safely and confidentially refer their clients to resources for help. The luncheon and training is provided at no cost for all attendees.

District Attorney Greg Willis said: “This program is specifically designed for stylists, because they tend to have long term, supportive relationships with their clients. Stylists are also uniquely positioned to notice signs of abuse – including bumps, bruises, and scratches – that others may not see.”

With proper training on how to recognize the signs of abuse and safely refer victims to help, salon professionals can become invaluable and influential community partners in the fight against domestic violence.

Joining in support of this event are many community partners who assist victims of domestic violence: Emily’s Place, Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, Hope’s Door New Beginning Center, Mosaic Family Services, Inc., Stronger than Espresso, Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, The Family Place, and The Turning Point / Rape Crisis Center.

In addition to the luncheon training, Collin County District Attorney prosecutors and investigators will also provide free “Cut it Out” training at local salons throughout October, which is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Those interested in attending the luncheon or scheduling a “Cut it Out” training, please contact Collin County District Attorney Victim Assistance Coordinator Jenni Ball at jball@co.collin.tx.us. For additional information regarding this program, go to www.collincountyda.com.

#domesticviolenceawareness

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Court rejects Cortez challenge in murder trial

The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Raul Cortez’s second challenge to his death sentence for murdering Austin York, announced Collin County Criminal District Attorney Greg Willis. Rosa Barbosa, Mark Barbosa, and Matt Self were murdered during the same incident.

Assistant Criminal District Attorneys Katharine K. Decker and Gail Leyko represented the State in this phase of the litigation and were assisted by District Attorney Investigator J.D. Spielman. Senior District Judge Webb Biard presided over the trial and the hearing.
The trial testimony showed that Cortez murdered 17-year-old Austin York on March 12, 2004, after Austin and his friends—Mark and Matt—came in on Cortez and two other men burglarizing the house of Mark’s aunt, Rosa, where Mark lived. The investigation went cold after multiple initial suspects were eliminated. The case broke when Cortez’s accomplice—Eddie Williams—contacted police in June of 2007, admitted his participation in the crime, and implicated Cortez. Ballistics and DNA evidence at trial corroborated Williams’s testimony that Cortez committed the crimes.
Testimony in the punishment phase showed that Cortez was a member of a violent street-gang in his hometown of Chicago, Ill.
Cortez’s current challenge to his conviction consisted chiefly of claims that his trial lawyers were ineffective. The trial court heard testimony from Cortez’s three trial lawyers and other witnesses in a three-day hearing in April 2012. After the hearing, the trial court considered other filings from the parties and recommended the claims be denied.
The Court of Criminal Appeals adopted that recommendation Wednesday. A prior appeal of the conviction was rejected in 2011.

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Allen man sentenced; police say he choked ex-wife, held gun to her head

Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis announced Wednesday that Daniel Julian Dewitt, 28, of Allen, Texas, pleaded guilty to Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Assault Family Violence, and was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 14 years and 8 years on Thursday, March 29, 2012.

Police said that on May 20, 2010, Dewitt broke into the home he had once shared with his ex-wife. While waiting for her to arrive, Dewitt drafted a letter purporting to be from her stating she was going to kill Dewitt and then herself that day. Dewitt, who wore black gloves and had handcuff keys in his pocket, then took his ex-wife’s gun and hid in a closet.
The District Attorney said that when the victim arrived and entered her bedroom, Dewitt came toward her with a gun. When she began to scream for help, Dewitt covered her mouth with his hand, told her to shut up and put the gun to her temple. As the screaming continued, Dewitt pushed her to the bed and restrained her while holding the gun to her head.
With her cell phone still in her hand, the victim dialed the last person she talked to in hopes that someone might hear the goings-on. But Dewitt noticed and became enraged again, restricting her breathing by covering her mouth and pinching her nose.He then put her in a chokehold and caused her to lose consciousness.
When she regained consciousness, Dewitt forced her to call the last person dialed to convince that person that there was no need to come over.
She made the call trying to give clues that she was in trouble but the friend hung up not understanding the situation. Dewitt made her call back.
After several attempts, she finally reached the person and screamed that Dewitt was there with a gun. Dewitt slapped the phone from her hand, pushed her to her knees and put the gun to her head between her eyes, cursing and telling his ex-wife she was going to die.
The District Attorney said that Dewitt heard a siren and moved the gun to his own head. The victim ran to escape but Dewitt chased her with the gun first to the front door, then back door, and then again the front door, where an officer pulled her to safety.
Police said that after several minutes, Dewitt emerged from the home carrying the weapon. Dewitt was ordered to drop his weapon repeatedly before complying.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Holly Griffin and Alyson Dietrich. State District Judge Mark Rusch presided over the case.
-CollinCountyHeadlines.com

Armed Sonic robber gets 35 years; One of county’s most wanted arrested in Suffolk County, N.Y.

Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis announced Friday that Joseph Manuel Meisenbach of McKinney has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for armed robberies of two Sonic Drive-Ins in Plano and Allen.


The sentencing followed an open plea (plea of guilty but without a plea bargain agreement) on Friday, March 30.

On Sept. 24, 2011, Meisenbach pulled into a Sonic Drive-In in Allen, Texas to order a drink.  When the Sonic employee came to deliver the drink, Meisenbach pointed a gun at him and demanded all of his cash. The server complied. Meisenbach then sped away and drove through the nearby Kroger parking lot. The server was able to give a description of the suspect, the car, and a partial license plate.

The next day on September 25, 2011, Meisenbach pulled into a Sonic Drive-In in Plano and again placed an order for drinks. Again, when the Sonic employee came to deliver the drinks, Meisenbach pointed a gun at her and demanded all of her cash. The Plano server also complied. Meisenbach again sped away and the employee was able to give a description of the suspect and the car.

Through the joint efforts of Detective Scott Epperson of Plano Police Department and Det. Brandon White of the Allen Police Department, Meisenbach was identified as the primary suspect. Police received anonymous tips through the North Texas Crime Stoppers website and witnesses were able to identity Meisenbach in a photo line-up.

On March 30, Meisenbach pled guilty to two counts of Robbery, second degree felonies. Prosecutors enhanced the range of punishment to a first degree felony based on Meisenbach’s 2006 El Paso aggravated robbery conviction. Meisenbach therefore faced a possibility of 5 to 99 years or life in prison. Prosecutor Zeke Fortenberry presented testimony of the two Sonic employees who were robbed at gunpoint, the detectives who worked on the case, and the prior convictions of the defendant.

After hearing all of the evidence, State District Judge Mark Rusch found Meisenbach guilty of Robbery, the enhancement allegations true, and sentenced Meisenbach to 35 years in prison on each case. The two sentences will run concurrent. Assisting on the case were District Attorney investigators Mike Bennett and Robin Laughon.

One of Ten Most Wanted arrested in New York

Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis announced Friday that Brian Charles Sweeney was arrested on March 28, 2012, by the Suffolk County Police Department, N.Y. Sweeney is one of Collin County’s 10 most wanted since 1998.

Sweeney was arrested in April 1997 in Allen, Texas, for the offense of Sexual Assault of a Child and was subsequently indicted by a Collin County Grand Jury in August 1997. A warrant was issued in September 1997 after Sweeney failed to appear in court. Sweeney has eluded law enforcement since, having been on Collin County’s Ten Most Wanted listing since 1998.

Sweeney is now detained in Suffolk County, N.Y, on charges of Assault with Intent to Cause Physical Injury to Officer, Resisting Arrest, Obstruct Government Administration, and False Personation, and will be returned to Collin County following the disposition of charges in New York.

Princeton man sentenced in sexual abuse of a child case

Rigoberto Benito, 46, of Princeton, Texas, was sentenced by a Collin County jury to 55 years in prison for continuous sexual abuse of a child and 5 years for indecency with a child following a four-day jury trial ending Thursday, announced Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis.

Benito assaulted his 9-year-old victim numerous times between September 2007 and May 2008 by fondling her genitals and breasts while the victim was being cared for at his home after school.  Testimony at trial revealed that Benito had at least 2 other child sexual assault victims, including one 7-year-old boy.  Benito is not eligible for parole for continuous sexual assault of a child.

Sergeant Billy Lanier of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant Criminal District Attorneys Crystal Levonius and Claire Miranda.  The Hon. Keith Dean presided over the case.

Anna shooting spree subject sentenced to 30 years

On March 25, 2011, Collin County prosecutors sought and obtained felony convictions on the man who went on a shooting spree in a residential neighborhood in Anna, Texas in September 2008. The accused, Erik Bowen, was charged with two counts of Deadly Conduct (for shooting in the direction of a habitation), and one count of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Following a two-day trial, a state district judge sentenced Bowen to 30 years in prison on the Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon charge, and 15 years on each count of Deadly Conduct.

“Violent behavior will not be tolerated in Collin County,” said Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis. “We will continue to rid our community of those who threaten law-abiding citizens.”

What happened?
Good Samaritan Chased Armed Gunman While Being Fired Upon

On September 1, 2008, residents in The Falls subdivision in Anna, Texas, celebrated the end of the summer with a neighborhood pool party. Later that night, while attempting to shut her garage door, a homeowner observed a man run out of her garage. Her husband and his friend went outside to investigate and walked down the street where they heard dogs barking. As the husband approached a location between two houses, Erik Bowen stood up from behind an air conditioner unit and shot at him two times (missing the husband) and then ran past him and down the street.

Bowen continued shooting at the husband as he chased Bowen down the street. Two stray bullets penetrated neighboring houses; one passing through a garage door, breaking out the back window of a vehicle and the other bullet passing through a front window of a home, and eventually stopping inside a filing cabinet.

The pursing husband/Good Samaritan eventually caught Bowen in the foot chase and a struggle ensued. Bowen then bit the husband in the abdomen and struck him several time in the head with the firearm. Moments later, the husband’s friend came to his aid and Bowen ran away yet again. Several witnesses to the incident testified to hearing gunshots and seeing Bowen drive away in a green Ford Explorer.

***
The Back Story
Subject Intended to Harass Ex-Wife but Entered Wrong House

Law enforcement authorities believed Bowen was in the neighborhood to harass and intimidate his ex-wife and her new boyfriend who were living in The Falls subdivision. Bowen was seen in the neighborhood days before the shooting, driving the same vehicle, and acting suspiciously. After the shooting, Bowen sent incriminating text messages to his ex-wife.

During the course of the trial, Assistant District Attorney Zeke Fortenberry called 15 witnesses to the stand, including City of Anna police officers, Collin County Sheriff crime scene investigators, the victims, and assorted neighbors who witnessed the events.

District Attorney Greg Willis praised the Anna Police Department and Collin County Sheriff’s Office for their two-month-long investigation that resulted in Bowen’s capture. Willis was also clear to point out that he would never advocate civilians chasing armed intruders, but called the actions of the pursuing homeowner “courageous.”

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