Monday, April 5, 2010

Dope Cooks Hid Ammonia Tank, Shot Dog Catcher In Surprise

Animal Control Officer was in the wrong place, right time

When the pair located the bottle of anhydrous ammonia hidden
in the muddy field, they were about to make their getaway
when a dog catcher drove up.

Knowing that he saw them, they decided to kill him on the
spot to remove any witness who could testify against them
from the scene.

Indeed, there were no witnesses until one of the
codefendants began to talk freely of the murder to cellmates
in the McLennan County lockup where he was awaiting trial
for possession of methamphetamines.

Numerous witnesses told jurors and a courtroom full of
spectators about the murderous attack - all of it related by
one of the murderers.

Testimony elicited Monday in the punishment phase of the
murder trial of Jerry Newland tells a story of a youthful
offender from a broken home, an early trip to a California
boys' ranch and a life spent locked away from the world -
eight years of it as a convicted burglar, forger and credit
card thief serving time in a Texas penitentiary.

Though prosecutors admitted there was no real physical
evidence to convict Mr. Newland and place him on the scene
of the murder of Bellmead Animal Control Officer Bobby
Evans, the 8 woman, 4 man jury voted to convict the 34-year-
old man of murder.

They assessed his penalty at life in the penitentiary and a
$10,000 fine due to the aggravating factor of three previous
felony convictions that will guarantee that he will not be
eligible for parole for at least 30 years after finishing a
9-year term for a fourth offense, that of possession of

At one point during their deliberations, the jurors sent
54th State District Judge Matt Johnson a note asking if his
sentences would be "stacked" and who would pay a $10,000
fine if they assessed it - himself, or his family.

The judge sent them a reply saying they should stick to the
matters at law they had before them in the charge and leave
the rest to his interpretation. Minutes later, they had
reached their verdict.

A heavily tattooed man with ties to the Aryan Brotherhood
prison gang, Mr. Newland and a co-defendant, James Terry
Ramirez, 45, of Bellmead, went to the remote location - a
dog pound on Dugger Drive in Bellmead - to retrieve a gas
bottle of anhydrous ammonia they had hidden there earlier.

When Mr. Evans arrived to put a dog in the pound and feed
and care for the animals penned there, they shot him in the
back four times, then flipped his lifeless body over to
shoot him once in the chest, according to the testimony of
jailhouse informers who said Mr. Newland bragged on his role
in the slaying of the unarmed man. They wanted to make sure
he was dead.

Mr. Newland has two teardrops tattooed in the corner of his
left eye, something knowledgeable people say means that he
has carried out two attacks on the assignment of the
nationwide prison gang of white supremacists. A lacework of
tattoos climbs out of the collar of his shirt.

His free world specialty was that of scoring the precursor
chemicals to "cook" methamphetamines - ephedrine from cold
tablets, sulphuric acid, red phosporus from matches, ether
from cans of cold engine starting fluid, and anhydrous
ammonia from tanks of the stuff stored at cotton gins, seed
mills and area farms.

Law enforcement experts have long asserted that the trade in
methamphetamines is controlled from behind bars in prisons
scattered across the nation.

Called to the witness stand by defense attorneys, his
father, Jerry Newland, Sr., told jurors that his son was
with his former wife until he was 10 years of age. She sent
him home to live with him, then took him to California where
he was incarcerated in the boys' home, then came to live
with his father again at the age of 14. In 1994, he got in
trouble over drugs that sent him to the pen.

The senior Mr. Newland, a mechanic for the Texas Department
of Transportation who is retired from the road and bridge
department of Navarro County, is raising his son's seven-
year-old boy, something he has been doing since the child
was a mere baby of four months. Though he kept his nerve,
he was barely able to contain his grief as he testified
about a lifetime of caring for his son from remote

During his closing argument, defense attorney Walter Reaves
told jurors it's easy to fall into a trap of "conclusion
bias," a psychological syndrome wherein one looks at a per-
son's demeanor, the things people say about him, his past,
and reaches conclusions based on their bias against such
personal factors as tattoos, previous convictions, and the

Prosecutor Edward Vallejo told the jurors that Mr. Newland
had been wandering around in a "methamphetamine stupor," a
condition that told him it was okay to just haul off and
kill an unarmed man because he could possibly introduce ev-
idence and testimony that would put him on the scene of a
felony crime.

He seems to have been able to get the jurors' attention
through similar testimony from the kind of jailhouse snitches
who have surrounded themselves with a milieu similar to the
one of which his counterpart on the defense bar spoke.

In a victim impact statement, Mr. Evans' widow, Debbie, said
in a written statement read to jurors by his brother, "You
chose to execute a man for no reason. In my eyes, you are
nothing but a cold-blooded killer and a coward...

"I feel that me and my family are serving a life sentence...

"Your life is over now and you have gotten what you

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