Meridian – It's not that Billy Ray Reeves is a one-man crime wave – not really, but the record does speak for itself.
When he entered a guilty plea for aggravated sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl back in October of 2010, he bargained for and got a 10-year stretch of deferred adjudication, registered as a sex offender in Jasper County, and went to work making “Sometimes $100, sometimes $75.”
“Is that per week?” asked District Attorney B.J. Shepherd.
Earlier, the Court listened as a probation officer handling Mr. Reeves' community supervision said, “Looks like we've received one payment per year.”
An earnest young man dressed neatly in slacks, a white shirt and tie, he meant that in three years time, the department has received three payments.
Now the veteran prosecutor asked, “If you were working, how come you didn't make your probation payments?”
Billy Ray thought about that for awhile.
He was arrested several months ago for failure to report to the probation office, failure to pay his fees, and failure to make payments on his attorney's fees, as well as six other violations central to similar issues involving the terms and conditions of his probated sentence.
Judge Phil Robertson agreed to allow him to admit as true to those three allegations and forego the rest.
The Judge had asked him earlier – before he took the witness stand in his own behalf - if he understood it's a rare day when a District Court allows such an arrangement.
He said he was aware of that, and as he answered Mr. Shepherd's questions, a picture began to emerge of his character and the type of man he is.
“Well, I worked in Kirbyville and that's more than ten miles from Jasper. That was costing us a lot of money, and my step father began to get more and more money from me.” He shrugged, looked at a spot in the air located somewhere midway between his eyes and his knees.
When he lived in Jasper and worked in the nearby town for $100 per week, he was diligent about making his visits to the probation office. At the time, he could afford to. Why, asked Mr. Shepherd?
“I paid for drug testing. That probation officer worked with me. That was all I had to pay.”
Now, then, about his medication. Where does he get it?
“MH-MR,” he said, meaning the Mental Health-Mental Retardation service of the State of Texas.
“Lufkin,” he answered.
“How far is that?”
Mr. Shepherd determined that the medication is furnished at no cost to him, then asked, “Do you remember when you ran out of medication?”
If he continued his term as a probationer, how would he be employed?
His former boss would re-hire him.
Where would he stay?
“I could stay with my Grandma,” he said. “But first I would have to ask her.”
“When you first got in trouble as a sex offender, were you staying with your grandmother there?”
His grandmother lives in Laguna Park.
“Is that in Bosque County?”
Authorities originally arrested him in Bosque County.
The Prosecutor asked the probation officer if he had committed further offenses?
“We believe he has been indicted on two felony burglary charges in Jasper County,” the man replied.
When it came time to sum up, Mr Shepherd asked the mental health worker and the probation officer if there is a drug offender's program available where authorities may send Mr. Reeves for treatment. They both said, “No, sir.”
The Prosecutor looked at the judge, and said, “I'm not sure that some kind of drug treatment would help.” He rested his case.
Mr. Reeves' attorney said, “Keep him medicated. Keep him reporting. Give him a chance to find a job.”
The judge took a long time, carefully reading the confidential pre-sentence investigation report, word for word.
Then he passed a sentence of seven years in the penitentiary, with credit for time served, to pay the original $1,000 fine for aggravated sexual assault, $340 in court costs, and informed him that he has a right to an appeal. The Court will furnish an attorney to handle that for him if he so chooses.