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Ex-Upshur County commissioner, son go before judge, but parties silent

By Christina Lane
April 4, 2013 at 10 p.m.

GILMER - Scheduled pre-trial hearings for former Upshur County Commissioner Lloyd Crabtree and his son, Todd, were conducted Thursday behind closed doors - with cameras barred from the courtroom and the public excluded from hearing arguments on the motions.

Three defense lawyers, Upshur County District attorney Billy Byrd and District Judge Lauren Parish met in the judge's chambers about an hour and a half Thursday afternoon while the public and other lawyers waited in the open courtroom.

When they emerged, all parties were mum.

The Crabtrees face multiple felony indictments stemming from an October incident in which they are accused of disarming a state game warden and holding him at gunpoint.

Byrd and Lloyd Crabtree's attorney, Clifton "Scrappy" Holmes, said they could not comment on the cases.

Byrd said he could only say proceedings "ended for the day." Holmes said it is his "expectation" that Parish will have to set another pretrial hearing before the scheduled trial date of April 30.

Parish's ban on cameras and cellphones in the courtroom was in stark contrast to her previous policy. The judge allowed cameras in the courtroom Wednesday for the arraignment of capital murder suspects Sarah Haslam and Andrew Norwine.

Parish did not enter the courtroom Thursday to address the court and could not be reached for comment afterward.

The Crabtrees were taken into custody in late January after an Upshur County Grand Jury returned multiple indictments against each of them. Todd Crabtree is charged with a single count of aggravated assault against a public servant, as well as taking a weapon from an officer and unlawful restraint of a public officer. Lloyd Crabtree is charged with three counts of aggravated assault against a public officer, as well as taking a weapon from an officer and unlawful restraint of a public officer.

The incident occurred at the family's property near the Sabine River in Big Sandy. Multiple law enforcement officers, including a game warden, had their lives threatened, Byrd has said. Lloyd and Todd Crabtree threatened a game warden with a firearm, including threats of serious bodily injury or death using guns, Byrd has said.

The father and son were originally placed in jail under $1.5 million bonds. Parish lowered the bonds to $150,000 for Lloyd Crabtree and $100,000 for his son. The two were released after posting the reduced bond amounts Jan. 31.

Jury selection is scheduled April 29 in both cases.



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