The son of former Upshur County Pct. 3 Comm. Lloyd Crabtree was placed on two years probation of a one-year county jail term Tuesday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge in connection with a widely-publicized standoff they had with a state game warden last year.
Todd Allen Crabtree, who had been charged with three felonies in the incident, was sentenced by 115th District Judge Lauren Parish on a reduced charge of unlawful restraint.
One of the felony charges, unlawful restraint of a peace officer, was reduced to the Class A misdemeanor, while the other two felony charges were dismissed on a plea bargain, Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd said.
The plea came 18 days after the elder Crabtree was placed on five years probation of a 10-year prison term upon pleading guilty to a felony charge of taking a firearm from a peace officer.
While Lloyd Crabtree pointed a rifle at state Game Warden Shane Bailey during the incident on Lloyd Crabtree’s property near Big Sandy, the younger Crabtree neither pointed his rifle at anyone nor threatened to, Byrd said.
Byrd said Tuesday the felony indictment for unlawful restraint alleged Todd Crabtree used his firearm to commit that act, and the charge was reduced because he didn’t use the gun nor make verbal threats.
Crabtree, 29, was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service, fined $250, assessed various court-related costs, and ordered to take an anger management course.
As part of the plea bargain, he took the witness stand to apologize to Bailey, who was present, and two other officers involved in the standoff.
“I want to apologize. . . At no time did I ever imagine that going hunting could lead to a gigantic mess,” Crabtree said in reading the statement to a courtroom packed by about 20 state game wardens and several other law officers. Crabtree, who purportedly told the game warden during the incident that he was trespassing, also said he had learned a lot about the law and that he had been “misinformed” about it.
The younger Crabtree, represented by Longview attorney John W. Moore, also said he never intended to put anyone in harm’s way and “I understand this situation could have been handled differently.”
Bailey was patrolling the property on Dial Road on Oct. 6, 2012 when he encountered first Todd Crabtree, then Lloyd Crabtree, both armed with .22 caliber rifles, Byrd said.
When the younger Crabtree encountered the game warden, who was wearing a camouflage jacket and riding a four-wheeler, Todd Crabtree told him he was under arrest for trespassing and called 911 to request his arrest, Byrd has said.
The younger Crabtree also called his father to tell him where he and Bailey were, the prosecutor has said. Although Bailey removed his jacket, clearly revealing his uniform, and called 911 to have a dispatcher identify him to Todd, Lloyd Crabtree came up from behind him and told him to disarm, Byrd said.
Bailey turned around to see the then-commissioner holding a 22. rifle on him, and removed his pistol, from which the younger Crabtree dropped the clip, said Byrd.
Lloyd Crabtree called Upshur County Sheriff Anthony Betterton from the scene, and Byrd has blamed the incident on the elder Crabtree’s “clearly flawed” thinking that he was making a “citizen’s arrest” of Bailey for trespassing.
During Tuesday’s 9-minute hearing, attended by both the elder Crabtree and his wife, Todd’s mother Robin Crabtree, Byrd said he had talked to various Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. officials and had “jointly made” the decision with them to approve the plea bargain for Todd Crabtree.