Murder case to be tried in Gilmer
Jan 03, 2013 | 9574 views | 0 0 comments | 705 705 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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CAPITAL MURDER suspects Daniel Jones and Sarah Haslam, guarded by Upshur County deputies and in handcuffs and chains, await their arraignment Friday before 115th District Judge Lauren Parish. They are charged in the muder of Ronnie Joe Gammage.
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Suspects in the capital murder of a Longview man have been brought to Gilmer, where they are expected to face trial.

Sarah Haslam, 20, and Daniel Jones, 19, of Longview; were arraigned Friday morning before 115th District Judge Lauren Parish, who set their bonds at $1 million each.

She also approved their requests for court-appointed attorneys. Ms. Haslam’s attorney is Charles Mac Cobb of Mt. Pleasant, former Titus County District Attorney. Jones’ attorney is Kevin Settle of Longview.

Both are on the First Chair list of attorneys for capital murder cases, said Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd.

A third suspect, and Andrew Conrad Norwine, 21, of Arlington, is awaiting extradition from Fort Polk, La., where he is stationed in the Army.

The three are also charged with aggravated kidnapping in Gregg County.

They are charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping in the murder of Ronnie Joe Gammage, 27, of Longview.

Gammage, who was described as mentally handicapped, had been allegedly forcibly abducted in Longview.

Byrd said that if they come to trial in Gregg County on those aggravated charges, it will be after the murder trials in Upshur County.

He did not have a date for the murder trials, but said the investigation is ongoing and evidence continues to be gathered about the crime.

He also said it is too early to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Ms. Haslam and Jones had been jailed in Gregg County. Norwine, an Army infantry man assigned to Fort Polk, La., was arrested by military police and jailed in Vernon Parish, La., until he could be returned to Texas.

Gammage’s beaten and burned body was found Dec. 19 near the intersection of Martin Lane and Mockingbird Road in southeast Upshur County.

Ms. Haslam, 20, and Jones, 19, were arrested Dec. 19 and charged with aggravated kidnapping and capital murder.

Longview police reports at the time said that they led authorities to Gammage’s body, and that Jones had cut Gammage’s throat to kill him.

The pair had been arrested after authorities released a surveillance video from the drive-thru at Gilmer National Bank, where they allegedly tried to cash a $400 check on Gammage’s account there on Dec. 4. The request was refused by a teller, based on insufficient funds.

At the time, the third suspect was not identified, but a warrant was issued for him.

Gammage had been in the bank and made a withdrawal shortly before they tried to cash the check on his account, police said.

Norwine was arrested by military police at Fort Polk, La., about 1 a.m. Christmas Day and turned over to the Vernon Parish, La., Sheriff’s Office on the outstanding Upshur County capital murder warrant. Norwine was held there under $1 million bond, awaiting extradition to Texas.

Bonds on the others were set at $1.3 million each, and they were jailed in Gregg County.

According to Longview probable-cause warrants, the trio slashed a tire on Gammage’s pickup while it was parked at a Longview restaurant, then tricked him into accepting a ride, allegedly to get a tire for his truck.

Arrest affidavits said that Gammaged was beaten and murdered before suspects attempted to burn and hide his body at the Upshur County location.

Reports were also that Gammage had been robbed a few weeks before his disappearance, and that the suspects had offered to sell some stolen property back to him. There were no allegations that they were the ones who robbed him.

The Gilmer police were involved in the investigation at Gilmer National Bank and Upshur County deputies went with Longview police to the site was the body was located.

Byrd said that evidence is continuing to be gathered and there is “still a lof of work to be done” before trials can be set.

“There are many decisions to be made,” he said. He said there is “still a lot of information to get back” from the forensics lab.

Byrd said the three had declared they are indigent, and asked Judge Parish to appoint attorneys for them.
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