Judge hands down 10-year sentence for threatening DA's life
Houston County Courier
By Lynda Jones
Judge Pam Fletcher of the 349th Judicial District on Thursday, June 13, handed down a 10-year sentence to Sharon Downes, formerly of Houston County, after a jury convicted her of retaliation against District Attorney Donna Gordon Kaspar. The retaliation case involved evidence that Downes had threatened to kill Kaspar. During the sentencing phase of the trial, Fletcher also told Downes that two conditions of her parole when she is released from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division are that Downes cannot return to Houston County and Downes can make no contact with Kaspar. Downes immediately said she wanted to have a meeting with Kaspar, and Fletcher sternly repeated that Downes is to have no contact with Kaspar. Fletcher presented Downes with Kaspar's written Victim's Impact Statement. Kaspar was in the courtroom, but opted not to present her statement orally. Prior to sentencing, Downes argued she thought she was only there for a Failure to Appear hearing for not coming to court for her trial on Tuesday, June 11. She said she was shocked that the trial proceeded without her. Downes said she had emailed the judge asking for a "medical leave of absence" and that she had asked for the jury to be sequestered until she felt well enough to return. Downes claimed she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the lengthy judicial process and was ill when she went home after court Monday. "I was just exhausted," she said. The location of her home also was an issue because she had told the court her home was in Liverpool with her parents, but after a deputy had to drive to Webster to pick her up Wednesday night, June 12, she admitted to living in a motel in Webster in recent weeks. Fletcher repeatedly told Downes, "I begged you to get an attorney," after Downes said she didn't understand why being sick was not an excuse for not appearing at her trial. Fletcher reminded Downes of a 13-page letter Downes gave Fletcher the week before the trial where she repeatedly said she would not appear, and of statements made in court by Downes on Monday, June 10, indicating she did not intend to return on Tuesday. Although Downes represented herself without an attorney, Fletcher had a stand-by attorney present during the trial proceedings throughout the week. Downes agreed to let him sit with her as "co-counsel" to herself during the sentencing. Fletcher informed Downes she has the right to appeal, and Downes stated she will appeal her case.