|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - October 2009
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Tabler pleads guilty in cell phone smuggling
Polk County Enterprise - October 2009
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — The inmate who made thousands of cell phone calls from his cell on death row pleaded guilty to retaliation and possession of a prohibited item in a correctional facility Monday in exchange for leniency for his mother and sister. Richard Lee Tabler triggered a statewide prison lock-down on Oct. 21, 2008, after he made numerous threatening phone calls to Texas Senator John Whitmire using a cell phone smuggled into the Polunsky prison unit near Livingston by Tabler’s mother, Lorraine Tabler, 60. Tabler appeared in Judge Elizabeth Coker’s 258th District Court and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for each of the charges that will run concurrently at the end of his current capital murder sentence. Tabler killed four people Nov. 26, 2004, in Bell County and was sentenced to death.
That sentence is currently under appeal. If that sentence were commuted to life, Tabler’s two 10-year sentences would begin at the end of the life sentence. Nine death row inmates used the phone to make 2,800 calls. In an intensive search of all 110 prison units, 220 cell phones were found in inmates’ possession. Tabler made numerous calls to Whitmire. In one conversation on Oct. 7, 2008, he threatened Whitmire and said he know the names of his daughters and where they lived. “My demand is for the state prison system to secure him on death row where he won’t be a threat or a nuisance to me or anyone else,” Whitmire said Wednesday. “I’m concerned that the TDCJ system doesn’t get complacent.
The amount of contraband that goes in and out of there is amazing. It’s just nuts that the administration of TDCJ cannot find a method to stop contraband.” “I guess there will always be a little, even on a good day. There’s everything from cigarettes to dope to cell phones in there,” Whitmire said. Lorraine Tabler and the inmate’s sister Kristina Martinez, 36, have a court date set for Oct. 16 where they will likely be sentenced to probation. “I think they were used by him and have learned not to do it again. I’m satisfied and I hope I never hear about him or from him again,” Whitmire said.