The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

January 18, 2014

Court of appeals uphold 50-year burglary sentence of Palestine man

Palestine Herald-Press


The 12th Court of Appeals in Tyler has upheld the 50-year prison sentence of Gary Dewayne Robertson, 42, of Jacksonville, for burglary of a habitation, the Anderson County District Attorney's Office announced Friday.

An Anderson County jury found Robertson guilty and rendered the sentence following an October 2012 jury trial before 3rd District Judge Mark C. Calhoon. In the decision issued by the appellate court on Wednesday, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict.

First Assistant District Attorney Stanley Sokolowski with assistance from District Attorney Lowe prosecuted the case both at trial and on the appeal.

According the trial testimony, Robertson broke into Montee’s Auto World, owned by local businessman Montee Poole sometime between 1 and 5 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 21, 2011.

Evidence in the trial showed that in addition to using the property for car sales and a garage, Poole had added living areas for occasional overnight stays.

Robertson contended in his appeal that the state had not proved the property was a habitation. The court of appeals, however, decided because the business had been adapted for “overnight accommodation,” the jury’s verdict was valid.

Upon discovering the burglary, Poole alerted the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and then found a 2008 Honda motorcycle taken in the burglary had been hidden in the woods near FM 323, approximately 200 yards from his property.

When ACSO deputies received the call, they began patrolling on FM 323, suspecting the burglar or burglars would return to the area and remove the motorcycle.

While in the area, ACSO Sgt. Bobby Bishop observed a vehicle matching a description given earlier by Poole as being suspicious slowing on 323 near where the motorcycle had been secreted.

When Bishop attempted to stop the truck, the truck turned around in an attempt to evade Bishop.

Eventually, Bishop stopped the truck and detained Robertson, who was a passenger in the vehicle. Deputies searched the vehicle and located several stolen items as well as flashlights, a ski mask and a set of wire cutters.

Robertson also had cuts on his arm that Sokolowski argued were consistent with someone being injured as they were pushing the motorcycle through a cut wire fence and thick brush.

Burglary of a habitation is a second degree felony which carries a range of punishment of 2 to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Robertson’s punishment range was enhanced to 25-99 years or life because of his criminal history and status under Texas law as a “habitual offender.”

Robertson was represented both at trial and on appeal by local attorney Colin McFall.

“I am very pleased with the Tyler court’s decision to uphold the jury verdict,” Lowe said. “The length of this sentence should warn other would-be burglars that there are severe consequences for this crime.”