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Kaufman County Jury Gives Gang Member 20 Years in Prison


On Wednesday, September 26, 2012, Chauncey Jarray Washington was found guilty and sentenced for the felony offense of theft from a person.  All charges stemmed from an arrest by the Terrell Police Department on July 2, 2011.  The investigation and prosecution was a collaborative effort by the Terrell Police Department and the Kaufman County District Attorney’s Office.

Assistant District Attorneys Brandi Fernandez, assisted by Shelton Gibbs, led the prosecution. Washington was represented by criminal defense attorney, Ben Massar. The District Attorney’s Office alleged two enhancement paragraphs, including one for a prior felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance.  

The second enhancement paragraph included an allegation that Kaufman County had been declared a disaster area by the Governor of the State of Texas in July of 2011 pursuant to Sec. 12.50 of the Texas Penal Code.  The defendant chose to go to the jury for sentencing.  During sentencing, the jury heard extensive testimony spanning more than ten years concerning criminal offenses committed by Washington.  

These included his involvement in four aggravated robberies, a credit card/debit card abuse conviction, multiple drug trafficking offenses, a burglary of habitation allegation, a felon in possession of a firearm allegation, and several acts of family violence.  

The jury also heard expert testimony from a gang specialist regarding Washington’s affiliation with the “Piru” faction of the criminal street gang knows as the “Bloods.”  At the conclusion of testimony, the jury gave Washington the maximum possible sentence of 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a $10,000.00.  

Mike McLelland, the Kaufman County District Attorney, was extremely pleased with the result because it reinforced the Impact Offender Program that he initiated when he took office. The program is a way to concentrate resources against the more serious offenders.

Chief Jody Lay was very happy because a person he considered an ongoing serious threat to the community was taken off the streets. Washington is the first defendant in Kaufman County to be charged and tried using the “Disaster Declaration” Enhancement since Tex. Pen. Code 12.50 was enacted in 2009.  

McLelland noted that even though it is an unusual enhancement provision, “The enhancement was necessary to relieve the citizens of Terrell from over a decade of crime at the hands of this defendant.”