The Justice Journal: Vol. 50 (English)

The Justice Journal: Vol. 50

A look at cases recently prosecuted by the Dallas County Criminal District Attorney's Office.

The Justice Journal

State vs. Alexander Guzman

Aggravated Robbery

Lead: Jonathan Grant

2nd Chair: Leah Dintino

DA Investigator: Juan Carranza

DA Paralegal: Regina Taylor

Investigating Agency: Dallas Police Department

The Defendant committed two aggravated robberies within 9 days of each other. On 09/08/2023 the Defendant approached a victim at the Cantera Crossing Apartments. The Defendant chased the victim to the victim's car and stole the victim's car and wallet. While committing the robbery, the Defendant fired three shots: one in the air, one by the victim's feet, and one in the victim's direction when the victim ran. Nine days later, the Defendant committed another Aggravated Robbery at the Cantera Crossing apartments. In that robbery, the Defendant shot the victim in the back while attempting to take the victim's car.

Thank you to ADA Aaron Veuleman for his assistance in trial, which included direct examination testimony of a punishment witness. Additional thanks to Gang/CRT investigators John Schingle, Jesse Resendez, Raul Obregon, and Investigator Julie Jacob for their work.

GUILTY and sentenced to 55 years in prison.


State vs. Hector Lemus

Intoxication Manslaughter

Intoxication Manslaughter Causing Serious Bodily Injury

Lead: Kristin Treager

DA Investigator: Ron Cathcart

DA Paralegal: Maria Cantrell

Investigating Agency: Dallas Police Department

On December 8, 2023, the victims in this case were traveling to take care of an elderly family member. The Defendant, who was intoxicated by alcohol and cocaine, was driving his vehicle at high speeds. Approximately 5 seconds before the collision, the Defendant was driving  98 mph on University Hills Boulevard. The Defendant collided with the right passenger side of the victims’ vehicle causing it to roll over and ignite in a fire that engulfed the entire vehicle. The driver was trapped and died as a result of the collision and fire. The passenger was rescued by good Samaritans who were also burned in the process of helping her out of the vehicle. The surviving victim sustained burns on over 60% of her body, and due to severe injuries, both of her legs were amputated.

The Defendant had almost twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system at the time his blood was drawn pursuant to a search warrant.  On May 2nd, the Defendant pled guilty to both charges and was sentenced to the maximum in both cases.  There was also an affirmative finding of a deadly weapon (a motor vehicle) in both cases, meaning the Defendant will have to serve at least half his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.  Family members of the victims were in attendance at the plea and were able to give powerful victim-impact statements on behalf of their loved ones. 

GUILTY plea and sentenced to 20 years in prison & 10 years in prison with a Deadly Weapon Finding.


State vs. Pedro Romero

Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child under 14

Lead: Joel Abraham

2nd Chair: Philip Teissier

DA Investigator: Walt Clifton, Laura Brakefield, Tomicka McCloud

DA Victim Advocates: Yvonne Macias & Leslie Gutierrez

Investigating Agency: Dallas Police Department

The Defendant continuously sexually abused a child under the age of 14.

GUILTY and sentenced to 37 years in prison with no possibility of parole.


State vs. Jabari Johnson

Capital Murder

Lead: Zack Brown

2nd Chair: Drew Taylor

DA Investigator: Martin Bosse

Da Victim Advocate: Claudia Arnick

Investigating Agency: DeSoto Police Department

Defendant Jabari Johnson (AKA Fat Jay) befriended the victim, Terrence Demus, in January 2022 and began to lead him on about a purchase of 125 pounds of marijuana that he had no intention of following through with. On January 18, 2022, the Defendant began to pass on details and information about the victim, his dealings, and his apartment to Mikeal Jackson to commit a burglary of the apartment and steal 125 pounds of marijuana and whatever else they could grab. While the initial plan was to have the victim not at home during the home invasion, evidence indicated all parties knew he or someone was in the apartment the night of January 22nd going into the early hours of January 23rd when the home invasion took place because Mikeal Jackson and others had been watching the apartment for the 2 days before the offense. Additionally, Defendants Mikeal Jackson and Jabari Johnson FaceTime’d just moments before the offense. Ultimately, Terrence Demus had his locked door kicked in and at least 31 shots were fired from at least 5 different handguns before Demus was killed from a single gunshot wound to his chest.

After the capital murder, Jabari Johnson messaged multiple people about an alibi for the day of the offense and remained in close contact with Mikeal Jackson before Mikeal Jackson was ultimately apprehended on January 28, 2022.

Through the work of the DeSoto Police Department, 7 individuals were arrested and charged with Capital Murder for their involvement in either planning or carrying out this home invasion.  With the conclusion of Jabari Johnson’s trial, 2 of the 7 charged went to trial and were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to Life without Parole, and the other 5 have all pleaded guilty to murder for their involvement with this home invasion.

GUILTY and sentenced to LIFE in prison with no possibility of parole.


State vs. Susette James

Capital Murder

Lead: Taylor Willis

2nd Chair: Ann Duffy

DA Investigator: Joe Mundy, Lorraine Resendez, Tomicka McCloud

DA Victim Advocate: Yvonne Macias

Investigating Agency: Dallas Police Department

The Defendant murdered her four-week-old grandson.

GUILTY and sentenced to LIFE in prison without the possibility of parole.


State vs. Biruk Kassahun

Arson

Lead: Steve Fawcett

2nd Chair: Kishwer Lakhani

DA Investigator: Hoyt Hoffman

Investigating Agency: Garland Police Department

The Defendant was a tenant living in a house in Garland. He lived alongside two other roommates Steve Polk and Alex Jones, and the homeowner Abe Suarez. They all decided to kick the Defendant out of the house for a variety of reasons and placed his personal belongings on the curb. Somebody took the Defendant’s personal belongings. The Defendant called the police who informed Abe Suarez that he needed to formally evict the Defendant, and so the Defendant was allowed back in the home.

The next night, the Defendant was heard digging through the walls and at some point, Steve Polk briefly smelt natural gas. The following morning, the Defendant called and texted Abe Suarez, who was at work, asking for his property and rent money back. Abe refused. Steve Polk observed the Defendant leave his bedroom window, take a piece of paper from his backpack, and lean into the bedroom from the outside while holding the paper and possibly a lighter. Moments later, the house exploded and caught fire. The explosion caused the house to shift off its foundation, resulting in all the doors becoming jammed. Steve Polk was able to force one of the doors open. However, Alex Jones was trapped and resorted to punching out a window with her hands.

The Garland Fire Department found a cut natural gas line in the Defendant’s room.

GUILTY and sentenced to 18 years in prison with a Deadly Weapon Finding and a $10,000 fine.


State vs. Victor Brown

Intoxication Manslaughter

Intoxication Assault

Lead: Priscilla Pelli

DA Investigator: Ron Cathcart

DA Paralegal: Maria Cantrell

Investigating Agency: Dallas Police Department

On January 7, 2022, around 10 am, Terese Robinson was driving east on Great Trinity Forest Way on her way to see her grandkids when she was rear-ended by the Defendant’s vehicle. The impact caused her to be propelled forward, over the center median, and into oncoming traffic causing her car to crash into the car being driven westbound by Martin Jimenez Munoz. Terese died as a result of the injuries she sustained in the crash and Martin suffered serious bodily injury.

The Defendant was intoxicated, uncooperative with the investigation, and kept saying that the police were going to shoot him. A blood warrant was obtained, and the Defendant’s blood had an alcohol content of 0.162. The Event Data Recorder (EDR) from the Defendant’s vehicle showed that he was going 91 mph in a 50 mph zone two seconds prior to impact and struck Terese’s car going approximately 83 mph while she was traveling at 49 mph. 

GUILTY pleas and sentenced to 25 years in prison with a Deadly Weapon finding.


State vs. Michael Harris

Manslaughter

Lead: Priscilla Pelli

2nd Chair: Andrew James

DA Investigator: Ron Cathcart

DA Paralegal: Maria Cantrell

Investigating Agency: DeSoto Police Department, assisted by DA Inv. Cathcart

On October 7, 2022, the Defendant was driving his pickup truck with his ex-Monica Childers with whom they share a college-aged son. They were traveling at a high rate of speed out of their neighborhood and towards a T-intersection. The Defendant drove through the stop sign and ran off the road into a field causing the vehicle to roll and for Monica to be ejected and die.

The Defendant showed some signs of intoxication and claimed he did not know what happened. He had some ecstasy pills and marijuana on his person and admitted to smoking weed earlier in the day. He denied EMS or medical treatment and refused medical treatment at the ER after he was placed under arrest and taken there to be cleared to go to jail.  A blood warrant was obtained, and a sample of the Defendant’s blood showed THC and meth in his system. 

A few hours after the crash and while at the ER, the Defendant had a convulsion that may have been a seizure. Inv. Cathcart analyzed the Event Data Recorder (EDR) data from the Defendant’s vehicle and it showed that he was accelerating from the mid-30 mph range to 50 mph in this residential neighborhood towards the T-intersection and stop sign just before it went airborne and crashed into the field.  The defense claimed that the Defendant had a seizure while driving and that is why he was accelerating, ran the stop sign, and crashed.  The defense provided us with medical records from 2016 (prior to the 2022 crash) and 2023 (post-crash) where the Defendant went to the ER for reported seizures. In the 2016 records, the Defendant was told not to drive until cleared by a neurologist. In the 2023 records, the Defendant said he wasn’t going to see a neurologist and hadn’t taken any medicine for his seizures in 2 years – which meant he had stopped taking any medication prior to the crash in 2022. 

ADA Pelli put on evidence from the forensic toxicologists that the Defendant’s driving was consistent with meth and THC intoxication. Additionally, Inv. Cathcart’s testimony regarding the EDR data was critical in refuting the seizure defense as he explained how the data was inconsistent with the Defendant having a seizure while driving. 

Judge Koch found the defendant guilty and made an affirmative deadly weapon finding and sentenced the defendant to 10 years. 

GUILTY and sentenced to 10 years in prison with a Deadly Weapon finding.

 

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