Woman sentenced in Rusk County copper theft
From Staff Reports
June 7, 2012 at 11 p.m.
HENDERSON - A split jury on Thursday convicted a 21-year-old woman on copper theft charges then sentenced her to a year in prison.
April Ann Morris, 21, of Caddo Mills, was found guilty after about five minutes of jury deliberation, according to Micheal Jimerson, Rusk County district attorney. He said Morris and her then-boyfriend, Jacob Earl Donahue, were seen by witnesses on U.S. 79 about five miles outside of Henderson cutting down wires in September 2011.
Jimerson said when the couple were advised by the witnesses that the Rusk County Sheriff's Office had been called, they fled.
While traveling at speeds of more than 100 mph, Jimerson said the witnesses said Morris and Donahue threw copper wire and wire cutters out of their vehicle.
The witnesses stopped their pursuit and were able to provide officials with a license plate number. From that information, the Texas Department of Public Safety provided witnesses with a photo lineup.
"The witness was quickly able to point out both Morris and Donahue," Jimerson said. Buddy Bankhead, the former head of the East Texas Electric Co-op, testified the cooperative owned the wire and that Morris did not have permission to take it.
Donahue pleaded guilty to the same charge in December and also received a one-year state jail sentence.
During the punishment phase of the trial, the state provided evidence that Morris had sold 179 pounds of copper to a Panola County scrap dealer on Sept. 9, 2011, a day before the Rusk County theft. The jury also heard that Morris gave birth on May 7 to a baby girl that was addicted to methamphetamine.
Jimerson said the jury also heard testimony indicating Morris had previous conviction in Hunt County for criminal trespass.
First Assistant County District Attorney Richard Kennedy was the lead prosecutor on the case.
"I am particularly pleased that the jury agreed with my office that this case deserved punishment in the form of a state jail sentence rather than probation."
Morris was represented by attorney Jon Hyatt.