The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

December 28, 2013

Tyler Court of Appeals upholds woman's 30-year drug sentence

By MARY RAINWATER
Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE —

The Texas Court of Appeals in Tyler affirmed the 30-year prison sentence of Leslie Ann Deltoro, 35, of Palestine after her conviction earlier this year for delivery of methamphetamine.

Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe reported that on Dec. 20 the appeals court confirmed the sentence accessed by State District Judge Pam Foster Fletcher on Feb. 25, after the defendant had pleaded guilty to the selling about 7 grams of methamphetamine to a “cooperating individual” at a local motel in April of 2011.

Deltoro appealed the lengthy sentence to the Court of Appeals in Tyler, saying that the sentence was cruel and unusual punishment considering the small of amount of drugs involved. Seven grams of methamphetamine is roughly equivalent to one-quarter ounce of the illegal substance.

At the sentencing in February, Judge Fletcher heard evidence that Deltoro had served three prior prison sentences prior to pleading guilty.

Sergeant Investigator Gary Wilbanks, formerly with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and now with the Texas Office of the Inspector General, and lead investigator in the case testified that after the “buy” was made, a search warrant was obtained for the motel room where the drugs were purchased.

When Wilbanks entered the room with other officers, “we saw an infant lying between two beds and another woman who said she was taking care of the baby for the mother, Leslie Deltoro.

“I found small plastic zip lock type bag that contained an off white crystal-like substance that I felt was most likely methamphetamine,” according to Wilbanks.

Subsequent testing of crystals by the Department of Public Safety laboratory confirmed Wilbank’s opinion and determined the weight of the drugs at about 23 grams of methamphetamine.

Deltoro testified in her own defense and described a tumultuous childhood and said that she had been “abused – physically and sexually” when she was 12. Deltoro related that she started using drugs in her early teens because of the abuse.

The investigation was a cooperative effort of officers from the Anderson County Drug Investigation Unit, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Palestine Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Anderson County District Attorneys Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In responding to Deltoro’s request for a lower sentence, the court of appeals in its opinion said the sentence was “not constitutionally disproportionate” to other sentences for other habitual or repeat offenders.

“I’m grateful Judge Fletcher’s sentence was upheld,” Lowe said about the ruling, “and that Ms. Deltoro’s drug dealing days may be over for awhile.”