Shipley, 28, of Mt. Vernon, was convicted of the Nov. 16, 2012, burglary of Mr. and Mrs. Jose Munoz’s residence on FM 993 in Lafayette Community, said Upshur County District Attorney’s office.
The defendant pled not guilty and testified in the case, but the jury took only about 30 minutes to convict him and about an hour and a half to decide punishment, said District Attorney Billy Byrd.
Shipley has already served prison time, and during the trial’s punishment phase, Byrd introduced evidence of several prior convictions the defendant had in Gregg and Upshur Counties. Due to one of the prior convictions, Byrd said, the punishment range for the burglary would be the range for a repeat offender—5 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Trial Judge Lauren Parish overruled court-appointed defense attorney Matthew Patton’s objection to Byrd’s introducing evidence of Shipley’s juvenile record in Gregg County. Patton argued the records were sealed.
According to Byrd, Shipley told law enforcement he hadn’t left home on the morning of the burglary, but changed his story on the witness stand and said he had dropped off his two co-defendants in the case at the Munoz home, but only to work.
His explanation for changing his story was that “he wanted to tell the truth,” but both versions were false, Byrd told The Mirror.
A male resident of the Lafayette area testified that at 7:15 a.m. last Nov. 16, he saw Shipley’s black Dodge truck parked and hidden behind a cemetery and the Lafayette Baptist Church, the prosecutor said. Byrd said he contended Shipley went across the road and burglarized the home.
Shipley is the only one of the three co-defendants to be sentenced so far. One of them testified that all three broke into the home, and said he had not been offered a deal by the state for his testimony, said Byrd, who confirmed that he hasn’t.
In addition, a female relative of the Munozes testified that Shipley phoned her on the day of the burlgary and asked her to persuade the victims not to press charges, the district attorney added. And while Shipley had said he hadn’t left home that morning, he was passing by Daddy T’s in the Bettie Community when he talked to the woman, Byrd said.
Furthermore, a video from Walmart showed Shipley’s two co-defendants being dropped off there from his truck on the day of the burglary, although Shipley himself is not seen in the picture, said Byrd.
In the trial’s punishment phase, which had no testimony, Byrd introduced evidence that Shipley had prior convictions ranging from failure to register as a sex offender to, as a juvenile, aggravated sexual assault of a male relative, and indecency with a child.
Two of the felony convictions and one misdemeanor conviction came when the defendant was an adult, the prosecutor told The Mirror.
He said he asked for a sentence that met “community standards,” while Patton sought the minimum 5-year term.
Byrd said he was “pleased with” the 13-year sentence, adding “We’re happy he’s off the streets.” A 7-man, 5-woman jury heard the case.
Patton was unavailable for comment Monday morning.