The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Crime & Punishment

May 14, 2009

Cell phone nets TDCJ inmate 60 more years

A Coffield Unit inmate was sentenced to 60 years in prison Tuesday after an Anderson County jury found him guilty of possessing a cell phone in a correctional facility.

A seven woman, five man jury found Derrick Ross, 38, of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Coffield Unit guilty of having a prohibited item in a correctional facility.

The case was tried in the 87th Judicial District Court with Judge Deborah Oakes Evans presiding. The state was presented by Allyson Mitchell, an assistant special prosecutor with the Special Prosecution Unit. The Special Prosecution Unit prosecutes all criminal cases that occur on TDCJ and TYC property throughout Texas by request from the local district attorney.

Ross was defended by Barbara Law, attorney for State Counsel for Offenders.

According to evidence presented by Mitchell, on March 27, 2007, a correctional officer at the Coffield Unit trusty camp attempted to search Ross after he began to act suspicious.

The officer testified that Ross was outside the administration office in the trusty camp when he started acting “squirrely and nervous.” The officer ordered Ross to stop for a procedural strip search.

According to the officer, instead of stopping, Ross began to run. The officer was joined in his pursuit of Ross by another correctional officer and they chased him down the trusty camp A and B dorms to the back area of C dorm.

The officer testified that during the chase, Ross tossed “something over his head onto the roof.” Once the throw was made, and the item discarded, Ross stopped and was taken into hand restraints by the pursuing officers.

According to testimony, another correctional officer climbed on the roof of the dorm in the area that Ross threw the item and found a state issued sock with a cell phone and charger inside. There were no other objects on the roof.

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