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Jury hands down 50-year drug
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON – What is believed to be the highest penalty ever handed down by a Trinity County jury in a drug case came last week when James Arness Stubblefield, 42, of Trinity was sentenced to 50 years in prison and assessed a $10,000 fine. Stubblefield was found guilty on Tuesday, Aug. 23 on a felony charge of delivery of a controlled substance (cocaine). The same jury handed down the punishment the following day after hearing additional testimony. “If we’ve ever had more than 50 years handed down by a Trinity County jury on a drug case, I don’t know about it,” District Attorney Joe Ned Dean said this week. He noted that while this was Stubblefield’s first conviction in state court, he had been previously convicted in federal court on similar charges had has served prison time in a U.S. penitentiary. The conviction stemmed from an April 11, 2008 undercover operation conducted by Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Narcotics Division. This particular investigation was initiated when current Trinity Police Chief Steve Jones was serving as the county’s sheriff. Jones had contacted DPS Narcotics, providing them with an informant he believed would be able to conduct undercover purchases of illegal narcotics from major Trinity County drug dealers. During the same timeframe, Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace had been assisting the DPS Narcotics Division with a series of undercover purchases of illegal narcotics. Stubblefield was not the only drug dealer identified during the undercover investigation. “People need to realize that those who deal drugs are not just drug dealers, but people who are indirectly responsible for the high burglary and crime rate in this county. People steal to pay for their drugs and do violent crimes when they are high on drugs,” Wallace said. During the trial, testimony showed Stubblefield sold nearly an ounce of powder cocaine. An officer from DPS Narcotics testified the powder could possibly have produced in excess of 100 rocks of crack cocaine. Assistant District Attorney Bennie Schiro was very happy with the decision and hoped this will give the drug dealers of Trinity a wake up call. Schiro added a decision like this gives a helping hand to the District Attorney's office and law enforcement. “Now the bad guys know that the community is tired of drugs and the associated costs and crimes and the community, in the form of the juries, are going to punish them harshly when given the opportunity,” Schiro said, “I asked the jury to make the drug dealers scared to face a Trinity County jury and I think their decision did that.” Schiro added that the jury in this case could choose from a penalty range of 15 years to 99 years with up to a $10,000 fine.