TOM GREEN COUNTY, Texas – According to the office of Allison Palmer, District Attorney for the 51st Judicial District of Texas, one of the first in-person jury trials in the state of Texas began in Tom Green on September 21, 2020.
The restrictions on jury trials were put into place months ago due to COVID-19.
The presiding Judge over the trial was Judge Carmen Dusek.
A statement sent by the 51st Judicial District read in part, “The Judge developed and implemented a plan that ensured public health and safety, carefully observed the constitutional rights of the accused, and still enabled the criminal justice system to function.”
The statement also called the efforts “groundbreaking” and recognized Sterling County officials who were also involved in the planning process.
“Sterling County Judge Horwood, District Clerk Jerri McCutchen, Sheriff Tim Sanders, and many other Sterling County employees and officials can serve to guide us all as we attempt to conduct the business of the courts in these times of significant health concerns for our communities.”
The trial was held for the defendant, 24-year-old Stephen Clifford who was charged with Aggravated Robbery. Clifford was accused of shooting a firearms in a Stripes convenience store in Sterling County and also using it to threaten an employee of the store and demand money from the cash register. Clifford had also robbed a hotel in Midland an hour before according to officials.
The jury found Clifford guilty and sentenced him to 30 years in prison.