A Fannin County jury sentenced James Harold Moon, 54, of Windom to 25 years in prison after convicting him of aggravated assault of a public servant with a deadly weapon on Thursday. The jury also imposed a fine in the amount of $10,000. The case was tried in the 336th District Court of Fannin County with Judge Laurine Blake presiding.
David Hoel, who represented Moon in the case, said Moon does plan an appeal.
The Fannin County District Attorney’s Office issued a public statement that said the case began on July 5, 2016, when Moon threatened a Fannin County Sheriff’s deputy who was assisting two surveyors in their attempt to map the rural tract of land north of Moon’s property on FM 1743.
The surveyors were on the right of way in front of Moon’s property, and Moon ordered them and the deputy to leave. When the deputy informed Moon that the surveyors had a right to be in that location, Moon produced a .40-caliber, semi-automatic pistol, which he then pointed at the officer and made ready to fire.
The release said, although the deputy was uninjured, a tense standoff ensued that lasted most of the afternoon. Moon eventually fled the property with the help of a neighbor, who hid Moon in the back of a pickup cab. Texas Ranger Brad Oliver was eventually able to track, locate and apprehend Moon, who had met up with his daughter and was en route to Oklahoma.
“The jury heard evidence that Moon was an increasingly isolated, erratic, and dangerous individual, who had steadily built a healthy criminal resume ranging from DWI (driving while intoxicated) to theft to assaultive offenses. Family members of Moon testified that he was threatening, abusive, and violent, and jurors learned that Moon had previously threatened to kill other neighbors while pointing a gun at them, although those incidents were never reported to law enforcement,” the release says.
This week’s trial was not the first time that Moon had faced the charges over the surveyor incident. He was tried for the same offense back in May. That trial ended prematurely in a mistrial after Moon ingested an overdose of sleeping pills and was unable to appear in court. Moon’s wife testified that he quickly recovered and checked himself out of the hospital then, knowing a warrant had been issued for his arrest, made plans to flee to Oklahoma in order to avoid arrest. He was arrested in Sherman that same day by a DPS trooper.
“The sentence Mr. Moon received will ensure that he is not a danger to our community or any other Texas community for a very long time,” Fannin County Criminal District Attorney Richard Glaser said. “I want to commend and thank Ranger Oliver for his assistance in obtaining Mr. Moon as well as his investigation into the case.”
Glaser also thanked the people of the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies who assisted in bringing this man to justice.
Under Texas law, Moon must serve at least half his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. However, Glaser noted that the violence of his crimes and his prior criminal history mean he may not be awarded parole even when he becomes eligible. “Parole decisions are left to the discretion of the parole board in Austin,” said Glaser, “but my office will strenuously oppose any early release for this violent man.”
“Parole decisions are left to the discretion of the parole board in Austin,” said Glaser, “but my office will strenuously oppose any early release for this violent man.”
Hoel said the fact that is client must serve at least half the sentence does make it a significant sentence in light of the fact that his client is over 50 years old. Hoel said he was shocked by the verdict.
He said the jury deliberated for part of one day and then part of another day before sending out a note saying that they were sitting with four people voting to convict, four people who were voting to acquit and two people who were undecided. Hoel said the judge encouraged the jurors to continue to deliberate and then they came back shortly thereafter with a guilty verdict.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Hoel said.
He said he doesn’t think his client ever pointed the gun at the Sheriff’s deputy.
“He had a gun, but I don’t think he ever pointed it at the deputy,” Hoel said.
He said the deputy was wearing a body camera, and it didn’t show that Moon had pointed a gun at the deputy.
Prosecutors presented an expert, Hoel said, who testified that the camera didn’t have the range required to pick up the gun that they alleged Moon pointed at the deputy. Hoel said if the gun were close enough to be a danger to the deputy, it would have shown on the camera.
Hoel also said the audio between the deputy and dispatch showed that the deputy never told the dispatch that Moon had pointed a gun at him.
Hoel also said the two surveyors testified that they didn’t see Moon point a gun at the deputy.