The 2011 Houston Press Crimes of the Year
With the Mayan Apocalypse just around the corner, perhaps it should come as no surprise that people are going a little nuts. And perhaps that's why 2011 was such a banner year for crazy crimes in Texas. Seriously people, we're starting to give those nutjobs over in Florida a run for their money.
Since January, we've seen a self-professed teen vampire terrorizing people on Galveston's Seawall and a hearing-impaired Houstonian who got trashed, bit off a chunk of his friend's ear, got run over by a truck, and escaped from the police while cuffed to a wheelchair, all in the same night. We've seen one domestic dispute sparked when a wife failed to like a husband's status update, and another one end when a false rape accusation was captured on tape.
We've read the dumbest quote from an alleged drunk driver ever, and written up the wildest and wooliest north Houston battle royale of all time. Lame robberies, a defendant pissing in court and threatening to join Al Qaeda, a woman tossing religious pamphlets at kids she'd just run over and the cop-car blow job heard 'round the world...2011 has had it all. Here is just a sliver of the oddest and strangest sins, blunders, and criminal follies from the past 12 months.
DRUNKS, DRUGGIES AND NUTJOBS, OH MY!
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Nude-wrestling cops, copious K-2 and courthouse wigwams: the strange saga of Lufkin's Douglas Paul McCoy, a.k.a. Geronimo the Cherokee.
This summer, Angelina County deputies found 48-year-old Douglas Paul McCoy sitting by the side of the highway, allegedly stoned on the synthetic marijuana product K-2, and in a state of agitation. The instant the cops rolled up, McCoy stripped naked and girded his loins for combat. Described by police, to whom he is well-known, as "very anti-social, anti-government, anti-law enforcement," McCoy then proceeded to mock and berate the cops. A tussle ensued from which the police emerged victorious, though it wasn't easy. "It's a little awkward just because when he's naked, you don't have anything to grab hold of," a policeman said at the time, which doesn't speak too highly of certain of McCoy's manly attributes, but anyway...
McCoy was jailed on charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication, and his remaining stash of K-2 was seized. Unsurprisingly, McCoy was "extremely non-compliant" during the booking process, so much so that he had to be strapped to a chair with a spit guard clamped over his mouth, Hannibal Lecter-style.
McCoy was freed around 8:30 the next morning, and mere minutes after walking out into the Piney Woods heat, McCoy spotted one of the arresting officers from the day before in front of the sheriff's office. McCoy reportedly made a beeline for him and angrily demanded that the lawman return the two little bags of fake-but-potent weed that had been seized the day before.
Deputy Bryan Holley told McCoy that there was a federal ban on K-2 and that his stash had been entered into evidence. McCoy told the cop he would "kick his ass." The cop told McCoy he would be doing no such thing and rearrested him on the spot, this time for felony retaliation.
And the story doesn't end there. Earlier this month, McCoy had a court date to answer to some of these charges. He showed up to the date early — almost 24 hours early, in fact, and pitched a tent near the courthouse. Told by a local judge to remove his abode from the premises, McCoy refused and told the cops that he didn't know who they were referring to when they called him Douglas Paul McCoy, as he was a Cherokee Indian named Geronimo who had forgotten his "white man's name." (He also apparently forgot Geronimo's tribe.)
And so he was arrested yet again, this time for disorderly conduct, failure to identify and criminal trespass.
Drunks Say the Craziest Things
In the wee hours of a Sunday morning in November, 27-year-old Matthew Mitchell smashed his Chevy Impala into a Life Flight chopper that had touched down on an East Texas freeway at the scene of a fatal drunken-driving accident. In the aftermath, Mitchell reportedly asked a DPS trooper on the scene the following question: "Why was the helicopter flying so low?" Mitchell was charged with driving while intoxicated.
Around dawn on a Saturday morning, a Galveston woman awoke in her Seawall Boulevard apartment to find 19-year-old Lyle Monroe Bensley kicking in her door, clad only in his boxers, growling, hissing and claiming to be a vampire. The tattooed teen then tried to bite her neck and slapped and tried to punch her. The woman escaped to the parking lot and was able to flag down a neighbor's passing car, but the inked, Hot Topic-looking vampire continued his pursuit and beat on the roof and windows of the car as the woman was whisked to safety. (She suffered minor injuries that didn't require hospitalization.)
Police arrived on the scene minutes later and found the wannabe Nosferatu still prowling the parking lot, though he did flee when he saw the cops. After scaling two fences in his attempted getaway, Bensley was finally captured by police who ran him down. He confessed that he was a vampire. Not only that but he was also 500 years old and from Hell. He warned them that they needed to restrain him for their own protection, because he could not suppress his "need to feed."
Okay, there's a lot wrong with this picture. First, where was Bensley's cape? We know sartorial standards have slipped since splendidly dapper Count Dracula's day, but boxers, earplugs and that douche-bag V-neck in his mugshot? Come on.
Second, Bensley was obviously no real vampire because he was outside after dawn. Any real vampire would have turned into dust or sparkled or something. And third, when he was being chased by police, he fled on foot instead of changing into a bat and fluttering away, squeaking in maniacal delight.
Bensley was charged with felony burglary with intent to commit assault. Paramedics ruled out drugs as a cause, and a mental health evaluation was ordered.
His case has yet to be resolved, but police would do well to remember South Park vampire Butters's admonition in a similar incident: "How can you ground the ungroundable?"
DUDE, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG
What would Jesus do if he hit a youth with His car, asked the kid if he was okay and got "no" for an answer?
If you answered, "Toss him a book about Himself, peel out and haul ass like the Dukes of Hazzard," you are cut from the same religious cloth police say Aida Hillen comes from.
According to court documents, the victim, a Milby High School student, told police he was crossing Broadway near the school on October 14 at around 5:15 p.m. when he was struck by the 58-year-old Hillen's 1996 Honda Accord.
As he struggled to his feet, Hillen, of League City, is alleged to have stopped and asked if he was okay. According to the complaint, when the victim said "No," Hillen tossed him a religious pamphlet and attempted to flee. Another Milby student tried to wave her down, the complaint states, but Hillen only waved "Bye" and kept on driving.
Fortunately this heroic witness was able to scrawl Hillen's license plate number on his arm and waited with the injured victim for police and paramedics to arrive.
The victim was treated by firefighters at the scene and released, but suffered chest pains several days later and visited an emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a bruised rib cage and handed a bill for $730.50.
Meanwhile, using the license plate number, cops tracked down Hillen. The victim later picked her picture out of a photo array. Hillen admits to driving her car down Broadway that day but denies hitting anyone. A felony warrant for her arrest — for accident causing injury — has been issued. She is currently on the run. If you see her 1996 Honda Accord with Texas license plate number 012-RTH, they urge you to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. Your call can remain anonymous.
You know that old saying: You rob banks because that's where the money is. Evidently Lavelle Hopkins of Hughes Springs never availed himself of that wisdom. How else can you explain the crime he stands accused of committing?
Simply put, police in the East Texas town of Daingerfield say that Hopkins held up the town's public library. That's right. The freaking library.
Omar Little wept.
According to previous reports, this epic gangsta move went down like this: Right after the library opened, the suspect came in and asked for computer privileges. Earlene Walton, a 23-year-veteran librarian, signed him in and allowed him to use one, even though, and this may come as a surprise, Hopkins did not possess a library card.
That was when the suspect told Walton that he had left something in his car and would be right back. Lavelle comin', yo!
Turns out that something was a pistol, which the suspect pointed at Walton's face. The suspect then snatched a jar marked "Friends of the Daingerfield Library" that reportedly contained less than $100 and fled. He was arrested later the same day and charged with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony punishable by anything from five years to life in prison.
Wrong Robbing, Part Two
The three-man, one-woman robbery crew certainly dressed the part. Despite the scorching July heat, each of them went to the BancorpSouth in Alto, Texas, dressed head-to-toe in long-sleeved black attire. At least two of them were armed with pistols, according to police, and they took along a black bag to put the money in and a two-way radio capable of monitoring multiple law-enforcement frequencies in both Anderson and Cherokee counties. They had even noted that Alto had recently furloughed its entire police force in a desperate measure to save money. So you can't say Channing Nicole Johnson, Evandreal Simpson, Mujibur Shaw and Carl Kelly stinted on planning the execution of their heist. If only they had delved as deeply into the logistics. Amazingly, none of them took note that the bank closed early on Wednesday afternoons, which, unfortunately for them, was when they hoped to rob it.
Employees inside the bank called police after they saw two of the men try to open the door with what had to be mounting frustration. Eventually the two men ran away and got in a Dodge truck with the other two members of the crew and then the quartet fled the scene. After a short car chase with police from several nearby jurisdictions, they were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery, engaging in organized criminal activity, tampering with physical evidence and evading arrest. Bonds for the foursome totaled more than one million dollars.
Wrong Traffic Court Defense
Going to traffic court sucks, even if you walk away with a dismissal. When you lose your case, it's even worse, and it's the mother of all bummers if the violation you were charged with was kinda BS to begin with.
That was just what happened to Bruce Charles Rhodes in Dickinson Municipal Court in July. The 29-year-old Alvin man was convicted of cutting through a convenience store parking lot to bypass a busy intersection and fined $105 and court costs by Judge Richard Cope.
We could forgive Rhodes a little anger there, maybe some eye-rolling, a heavy sigh, some cussing under his breath. That, however, is not the way Rhodes rolls. He reportedly groused long and loudly about the decision, saying he was broke and that it was a joke. Cope threatened to find Rhodes in contempt, but the angry Alvinite with the lopsided beehive was just getting started. He threw the judge a hearty "Fuck you!" and said he was going to forsake America and join Al Qaeda.
Cope responding by piling another $95 onto Osama bin Rhodes's original fine, whereupon the would-be terrorist cackled. By then, Dickinson cops had moved in, but Rhodes was far from finished expressing himself. As Rhodes attempted to make his getaway from the court's foyer, he allegedly kicked one of the cops in the nuts, whereupon he was subdued and taken to jail, newly charged with felony assault on a public servant. Even then there was plenty of fight left in Rhodes's dollar-menu jihad. He had to be restrained for his own safety in the jail, but that apparently didn't stop him from threatening serious bodily harm on a female jailer. Bingo, felony number two: terroristic threat against a public servant.
Which has nothing to do with threatening to become a terrorist, by the way.
Wrong Criminal Defense
Seventeen-year-old Corey Webb was already in a heap of crap when he entered the Tyler courtroom of District Judge Kerry Russell. He was accused of shooting at a peace officer during an escape attempt from juvenile hall. And to say that his courtroom demeanor did not enhance his good standing in the community is a monumental understatement.
First he mumbled loudly and distractingly through much of the testimony, drawing a reprimand from Russell. Then he petulantly demanded to know if he could fire his lawyer. And then, there came his most eloquent statement yet.
After a woman's testimony, Russell dismissed the court for lunch. Just as the jury was being ushered out, Webb unbuckled his pants, strode over to a trash can and pissed in it.
A no-doubt shocked Judge Russell soon recovered enough judicial gravitas to thunder down this historic pronouncement from the bench: "I don't know how you were raised, but peeing in a trash can in a state district courtroom is inappropriate behavior."
After the break, Webb entered a guilty pee plea on the original charge. During the punishment hearing, at which Webb received a 50-year sentence, Judge Russell made sure to include a bathroom break. "I'm not about to have another episode like we did during the jury trial," he said.
Like My Status, Or I'll Break Your Face
It was a sad summer for Benito Apolinar. First, he and his wife Dolores separated after 15 years of marriage, and she took the kids from their home in Pecos, Texas, and moved them across the state line to Carlsbad, New Mexico. Benito, 36, had moved in with her a little later in an effort to try to patch things up.
And then came the anniversary of the death of Benito's mother. He posted notice of that grim occasion on his Facebook wall, and many of his friends paid their respects.
Not among those liking Benito's remembrance: Dolores Apolinar. Among those not liking that she didn't like that: Benito Apolinar. According to the Carlsbad Argus, police say he showed up at the house drunk, demanding to know why she had not liked his post, saying that it was "amazing [how] everyone 'likes' my status but you, you're my wife. You should be the first one to 'like' my status."
As she was under house arrest at the time (details on this never came to light) and feared the trouble that was looming, Dolores would not at first let him and his Facebook grievances in. Eventually, however, Benito gained entry, things got physical and when the dust had settled, Benito was arrested and charged with battery on a household member. He has pleaded not guilty.
High-Tech Nitwits, and a High-Tech Genius
Newfangled gadgets led to the self-induced downfalls of a horde of criminals this year. There were several men whose kiddy porn collections were uncovered when they either pawned their computers or took them in for repairs. There was the man busted developing his kiddy porn photos at a Walmart kiosk, and a woman who used a stolen credit card to pay for the photo on her Sam's Club card. A couple of guys unintentionally filmed themselves installing cameras in women's bathrooms and dressing rooms. And teacher after teacher after teacher went down in sex scandals, their statutory rapes uncovered by byte after byte of steamy texts and spicy pics left on their victims' cellphones and in their inboxes.
But one unnamed Montgomery County man used his cellphone to save himself from years behind bars. This fall, two sheriff's deputies reported to an apartment in response to a sexual assault call. "The alleged victim stated to the deputies that her 26-year-old male friend had sexually assaulted her," the report stated. And there was the alleged perp right there. It looked like an easy collar for the boys in blue.
Turns out it would be an easy collar, only it wouldn't be the man going to jail. As the report put it, "Upon further investigation the deputies watched a video recording the male had made that showed the female telling him that she was calling the police because he was making her leave the apartment and she would tell the police he assaulted her."
Epic cry rape fail. The woman, whose name never surfaced, was arrested and charged with making a false report. As the Houston Press's Richard Connelly put it in his report, the scenario leaves us with a few puzzlers, namely, since this was a romantic relationship, how did the woman come to believe that falsely accusing her boyfriend of rape would enhance their romance? How long did the guy let the whole rape thing play out with the cops, knowing full well he had the smoking gun in his pocket? How worried must he have been that he somehow forgot to hit "record," or that the camera had malfunctioned? And the eternal question Connelly posed: "Once again, a villain is foiled by blabbing about his or her evil intent. Will they ever learn?"
Unlike the rain on Alanis Morissette's wedding day, this really was ironic...
Lufkin police arrested a couple on charges of assault-family violence after a cop spotted them smacking, clawing and tussling with each other outside the Angelina County Courthouse. This combat was a culmination of a verbal altercation that had begun inside the courthouse — at a family-violence counseling session.
This latest domestic violence arrest is 57-year-old Garry Paul Kimmey's third since May. This arrest was 60-year-old Margaret Kimmey's first for this offense.
Anonymous Lufkin Mayhem, in Twitter-Sized Chunklets
Speaking of Lufkin, the Daily News, the leading information source in the Piney Woods metropolis, has one of the finest police blotters in the state. Here are a few of our favorite mini-stories they published this year:
February 1, 2011: A man reported being hit in the groin with an ottoman after a woman kicked it in his direction.
May 1, 2011: Two pregnant sisters began having an argument that escalated into a food fight on Gobblers Knob Road, their mother told Lufkin police. During the food fight, one daughter punched the other in the stomach, the mom said. The other daughter then sprayed her sister with mace, according to the police report.
March 27, 2011: A woman reported that while at her boyfriend's son's Little League game, she and her boyfriend's ex-wife got into an argument in the 600 block of Windsor Court over the possession of the boy's home run ball. The ex-wife assaulted her by pushing her up against a fence, according to a Lufkin Police report.
June 30, 2011: A man reported that his future mother-in-law told him during a phone conversation, "I'm going to kill you."
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THE CRIMES OF THE YEAR!
Mortal Kombat Re-enacted on Aldine Mail Route
One of the strangest melees we've ever encountered started on August 21 on north Houston's Aldine Mail Route. That's where Deborah Minton and Diane Rocha were whiling away a pleasant afternoon, the peace of which was soon shattered when a white F-150 truck pulled up and disgorged two women on a mission: Deborah Minton's daughter Robin Minton and Consuelo "Connie" Shaukat, Deborah Minton's son's girlfriend. The two women believed that Rocha had reported them to CPS for allowing their teenaged children to smoke weed with them, and they wanted vengeance.
Mama Minton told Rocha to go inside, and said that she would handle her daughter and Shaukat. She ordered the angry duo to leave, but they shoved her, barged inside, and the younger Minton shoved her mother up against a wall and held her there while Shaukat pursued Rocha, who fled into a bedroom and locked the door. From her refuge, Rocha could still hear the ruckus coming from the hallway, and she cracked the door to peek. She said that she saw Minton restraining her mother while Shaukat was yelling threats directed at her. Shaukat then allegedly tried and failed to kick down the door, but left, saying that soon enough vengeance would be hers.
Round two of this soon-to-be epic death match came on Saturday, September 3. Robin Minton and Connie Shaukat were back on the warpath, this time bringing three men with them: Connie's ex-husband, Pakistani immigrant Adnan Shaukat, and two as-yet-unidentified accomplices.
And this is where it starts to get weird.
According to married couple Paul and Kimberly Ryals, they had just finished swimming in their pool at their north Houston home when they heard dogs barking. Kimberly Ryals says she looked out the window and saw Connie (a friend of a former employee of hers) and Robin (the sister of a former employee of hers) scaling her chain-link fence.
Ryals knew that these women believed that she, too, had been involved in reporting them to CPS, so she says she went to her bedroom to fetch a .22 caliber pistol and made a break for the back door with her husband. Unfortunately, Connie Shaukat was already in the house and she had a Louisville Slugger in her hands. Paul Ryals ended his strategic retreat and counterattacked, using his left hand to put Connie in a choke hold and grabbing the bat with his right, causing both of them to tumble to the floor. Kimberly Ryals then stated that she walked up to Connie and shot her twice with the pistol — once in the back and once in the back of the neck. Alarmingly, according to the report, "Shaukat continued to fight and did not appear to be hindered."
Meanwhile, by this time Robin Minton had come around to the back door. Kimberly Ryals popped a cap at her, too, but missed. Connie Shaukat picked herself up off the ground and then fled out the back door with Minton. Kimberly Ryals utilized this interlude to call police.
And then she saw Adnan Shaukat and his buds coming after them. The Pakistani allegedly had a pair of bolt-cutters in one hand and he was coming for Paul Ryals, who by this time had availed himself of Connie Shaukat's bat. Paul says Adnan swung the bolt-cutters at him and missed, and Paul swung the bat at his head and connected. Paul says he then turned to find the whereabouts of the other two men. Once he found them, he was alarmed to note that one of them had a fucking hand grenade in his hand.
Just then Adnan charged again with the bolt-cutters. Apparently they were now outside, because Paul Ryals says he staved off this counterattack by availing himself of the machete he keeps in his work truck. And so they dueled, bolt-cutters versus machete...and then grenade guy ran up and dropped the bomb next to him. (It later transpired that the grenade was a harmless replica.) Grenade dude then somehow got control of the machete, and then Paul Ryals says he was tussling with him instead of Adnan.
By then a third man had picked up the bolt-cutters and started whaling on Paul Ryals. Paul says he fell to the ground and cried out to his wife for help, all while all three of the men were kicking him. Kimberly Ryals says she picked up a glass ashtray and beat Adnan Shaukat about the head with it vigorously.
But Kimberly Ryals evidently forgot about Minton and Connie Shaukat, because while she was brandishing the ashtray, those two women sneaked up behind her, with Connie Shaukat allegedly laying into her with a garden hoe, causing her to fall to the ground and go into the fetal position, whereupon Connie and Robin starting kicking her repeatedly.
She says she looked up and saw an unidentified man looming over her with a metal tool. Perhaps he was hearing years of Mortal Kombat training urging him to "Finish her!" but thankfully he didn't get the chance. Just as she yelled that police were on the way, sirens were heard in the distance, and all the suspects fled. Kimberly Ryals says her lacerated head required nine staples to mend, and both she and her husband say they had multiple bruises and contusions.
Only Adnan Shaukat was arrested in the immediate aftermath — he's been charged with second-degree felony burglary and is still behind bars. The same charges now face Minton and Connie Shaukat, both of whom were picked up in October.
And despite being shot twice, Connie Shaukat didn't slow her roll one bit. In fact, if her Facebook page is to be believed, since this incident occurred, she has divorced Adnan and gotten remarried, five days after this insane melee, to the very same man who bailed her ex-husband out of jail.
Davon Stewart's Wild Night
Few of us get into fistfights as adults, or get run over by trucks. Fewer of us still bite off a chunk of someone's ear or flee the cops, and even fewer of us still do so in a wheelchair. In all recorded history, perhaps only Davon LeShannon Stewart has done all four of those things in a single night.
Here is how it all went down back on February 21. Like so much other area mayhem, the story is set at a party at a Southwest Houston apartment complex. Stewart is hearing-impaired but can speak if needed, and he was there conversing with a man we'll call Jaime, who is also hearing-impaired but speaks using sign language. Though it was only about 6:30 p.m., Stewart was reportedly drunk off his ass and constantly butting into Jaime's conversation with a third man, so often that a frustrated Jaime finally felt he could get Stewart to zip it only by dumping a bottle of malt liquor over his head.
This did not get the desired result, and Stewart went on the attack. He knocked Jaime's girlfriend out of the way and then grappled with Jaime, who says he managed to get Stewart into a bear hug. Somehow Stewart got loose and bit off a chunk of Jaime's ear, whereupon he fled into the night.
And was almost immediately run over by a Dodge Durango.
Stewart's left leg was substantially injured, so an ambulance whisked him off to Memorial Hermann Southwest. Police questioned him there and he gave them a fake name, under which he was initially placed under arrest for aggravated assault. A cop handcuffed him to a wheelchair and asked another cop to watch him while he completed some paperwork on the case.
Stewart was wheeled off for an X-ray, but while waiting in line, he instead cruised off into the night, still cuffed to his chair. Meanwhile, the two cops on the scene had learned his real name. One of the arresting officers eventually picked Stewart out of a photo array, and while he remained a fugitive for several weeks, and presumably got uncuffed at some point, he was picked up in March.
In April, Stewart was convicted of felony aggravated assault and given four years' deferred adjudication. The felony escape charge cops had tacked on was dismissed after he was convicted for the assault.
The Cop-Car Hummer Heard 'Round the World
It sounded like a humdrum call for the Montgomery County Precinct 4 constable: an intoxicated male passed out inside a Whataburger in Porter. Ho hum. Zonking out in and around Whataburgers is a venerable Lone Star State tradition, as Texan as a March vista of bluebonnets and live oaks and rolling Brazos Valley hills.
But this case turned out at first to be a little something more, and then, before it was over, the kind of tale the cop will be telling in barrooms for the rest of his life.
On rolling up to the Whataburger at around 2 p.m., the cop found 30-year-old Howard Keith Windham of New Caney at a table inside. While his friend, 44-year-old Tina Marie Arie of Porter, looked on, Windham was smacking around an unidentified passed-out buddy, who was allegedly slumbering away a pill-induced stupor.
The cop soon found that the sleeping man's pockets were brimming over with dozens of Soma and hydrocodone pills, and the cop stated that he saw Windham drop another Soma pill under the table. Arie then admitted that she had shared some of her stash with Rip Van Whataburger, and the cop soon found a few partially empty pill bottles in her car.
Sleeping Beauty was whisked away to an area hospital, and both Windham and Arie were popped for the pills. Both were cuffed and stuffed in the back of his patrol car.
En route, the cop glanced in his rearview mirror and noticed some unusual movements. On further examination, he realized he could no longer see Arie's frizzy-haired head. He asked if she was all right, and after what we imagine had to be a little pause, and perhaps a gulp or two, she replied that she was tired and had laid her head down in Windham's lap.
Which was partially true. Her head was in Windham's lap, but not because she was tired. As the police report put it, "Windham's pants were unfastened and Arie was servicing his exposed genitalia." Yep, that's what they call a "blue-light special."
The cop told the lovebirds to behave and took them on to jail without filing any extra charges.
Our reporting of what was originally the Montgomery County Police Reporter's story helped break it worldwide. In the days that followed, news of this cop-car hummer spanned the globe. The Dutch headlined their account "Woman Sucks in Police Car." The Danes called Arie, who was frequently compared to Houdini, "energetic." The Chinese called the blow job a "bold act of arrogance."
Well, now, wait a minute. That's a little harsh. It makes it sound like she was conducting naval maneuvers off the Taiwanese coast or something. For us, it was simply the Houston Press Crime of the Year.