Lori Ann Davidson, 44, of Longview, was ordered by visiting District Judge Joe Clayton of Tyler to serve 30 days in county jail on weekends, starting at 10 p.m. that night. He rejected defense attorney David Griffith’s request to find she had not violated her probation, but allowed her to serve her sentence during the two weeks of the month when she does not have custody of her 9-year-old daughter.
After hearing testimony in 115th District Court that Ms. Davidson’s mother has terminal cancer, and that the defendant and her daughter are close, Clayton said, “If those two factors were not involved, I would have no problem with (imposing) an extended jail term.”
Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd, who brought the revocation proceeding, had sought a term of “much higher” than 90 days. He later said he confirmed that Ms. Davidson reported to jail for the weekend as ordered, and that while he respected the court, the jail term should have been longer.
He had told Clayton that in her work as a juvenile probation officer, Ms. Davidson had been “trusted by the State of Texas” and “stood by me in this court” during revocations of juveniles’ probation.
Clayton revoked the “deferred adjudication” probation Ms. Davidson was on, which had meant she would have had no final conviction on her record on the tampering charges if she had successfully completed probation. He imposed a new 1-year misdemeanor probation for those offenses—ordering among other things that she receive counseling—after hearing testimony from her and several witnesses that she has been depressed.
The tampering charges were in connection with her past work as a probation officer. She had originally been indicted on felony charges, which Byrd reduced to misdemeanors, and was nearing the end of her term of probation.
Ms. Davidson will serve weekends in jail from 10 p.m. Fridays to 6 a.m. Mondays, Clayton ordered. Griffith, who had told the judge that “some of Ms. Davidson’s actions have been totally out of character” and asked the jail term not exceed 90 days, said after the hearing the sentence was “fair under the circumstances.”
At Friday’s hearing, Byrd introduced videos showing Ms. Davidson inside Dillard’s department store in the Longview Mall on Jan. 3. According to testimony from store employees, a security officer found jeans in her purse inside the store after another worker observed the former probation officer acting suspiciously on a security camera.
On the witness stand, Ms. Davidson admitted lying to the security officer by saying she planned to exchange the two pairs of jeans found in her purse. She testified that she tried them on, but they weren’t her size, and “I wasn’t thinking at all. . . I was trying to find a place in the store to put ‘em in.”
“I never intended to leave the store with anything,” Ms. Davidson testified. (According to testimony, she did not leave. But Byrd told The Mirror that concealing merchandise is considered evidence of theft. And Ms. Davidson has been charged with a pending misdemeanor theft case in Gregg County, which led to Byrd’s move to revoke her probation.)
“I see no reasonable, rational reason for the conduct of the defendant in Dillard’s that day, other than to appropriate (steal)” the clothing, Judge Clayton said before Ms. Davidson testified. He cited the testimony of store employee Katie Pickard, who watches shoplifters on security cameras.
Pickard testified that Ms. Davidson took three pair of $99 “Miss Me” jeans, a “high-theft item,” into a dressing room and emerged showing only two pair. But “her purse was larger when she came out,” the worker testified.
Ms. Davidson then entered the linens department with a pair of jeans beneath her arm, but the clothing was not still there when she emerged from that area, Ms. Pickard testified.
Ms. Davidson’s probation officer, Chris Brown, testified he learned Feb. 6 from an anonymous letter sent to him that Ms. Davidson had been charged in the incident. He said one condition of her probation was to notify him of any arrest within 48 hours, but that she did not apprise him of her Jan. 3 arrest, and that she was $979 behind in her probation fees.
He said her probation had been set to expire March 15.
Ms. Davidson’s boyfriend testified he could provide her with employment, and she testified he helps her with her bills.