Patrick Fitzsimmons, 43, had been a methamphetamine addict for about 20 years on Jan. 16, 2018 when his drug use caused him to chase a Grayson County corrections officer around downtown and in to the parking lot at the Sherman Police Department.
Wednesday in the 15th state District Court, Fitzsimmons begged and pleaded with Judge Jim Fallon to allow him to seek treatment while on deferred adjudication instead of going back to prison.
Fitzsimmons said he wanted another chance to be a father to his two sons, now 17 and 20, and a chance to own his sobriety. He said he knew he deserved whatever Fallon might decide to give him, but he was asking for one more shot at probation.
Fitzsimmons will have to serve at least half of the 20 years Fallon sentenced him to before he will become eligible for parole.
Grayson County District Attorney Brett Smith played a 911 call in which a Grayson County jailer calmly, much more calmly than many could have probably managed in a similar situation, described Fitzsimmons tailing her through downtown Sherman, out to the U.S. Highway 75 access road, down that road to FM 1417 and across the bridge to State Highway 11 and back through town.
The corrections officer said she first saw the silver truck Fitzsimmons was driving that day as she was leaving the Grayson County Jail staff parking. She didn’t think much of it as she left and he followed her out to the highway. But once she was headed south, she noticed he was making moves that indicated he was following her. She said when he followed her back toward town on Hwy 11 she knew he was following her. He then removed all doubt by getting out of his truck and ranting and raving at her when they were stopped momentarily.
She called 911 and was told to head back to the Sherman Police Station. When she got there, she jumped out of her vehicle and ran into the 911 answering area where staff locked the doors behind her. Sherman Police Officer Kevin Garbacik was waiting to stop him. When asked why he was following the corrections officer, Fitzsimmons gave rambling answers about the failure of his marriage and his estranged wife’s interest in another man.
That was actually the second time that police had interacted with Fitzsimmons that day. Earlier in the day, he had been pulled over after police were called because he was acting strangely at his estranged wife’s father’s house. He had threatened to take his wife’s car. His father-in-law told Smith that Fitzsimmons “had pretty wild eyes” and looked like he was high on meth. After failing to stop for a Sherman officer, a Texas Department of Public Safety officer was able to stop Fitzsimmons. But, he hadn’t hurt anyone and was allowed to go after getting ticketed.
Sherman Attorney Pamela McGraw asked each witness if they thought that Fitzsimmons suffered from an addiction to drugs and most of them said that they did believe that. She asked if each witness if they thought treatment would help Fitzsimmons. Each said it would, but most said he would have to really want it.
Fitzsimmons said he did want it. He said he had never made use of treatment before because when he was younger, he thought he could just put the meth down and rebuild his life. But, he couldn’t.
“I believe you mean what you are saying now,” Fallon told Fitzsimmons as he prepared to sentence the man to his fourth term in prison. Fallon said he compared the danger of what Fitzsimmons had done to a driving while intoxicated third offense, and if it were just a matter of Fitzsimmons using meth again, then he might have considered a more treatment oriented sentence. But Fitzsimmons had already put someone else’s life in danger once and there wasn’t a lot to show that he wouldn’t do it again if his resolve to stay clean faltered.
The plea agreement that landed Fitzsimmons in front of Fallon capped the sentence he could get at 25 years after the DA dropped the aggravated assault with a deadly weapon retaliation charge that Fitzsimmons had faced in the matter.
Fallon said he would not go below the cap but he was sentencing Fitzsimmons to prison. He must also pay court costs. Fallon asked if there was any restitution due in the case and Smith said that insurance had paid for any restitution that was due. McGraw pointed out that it had been Fitzsimmons’ insurance that paid that restitution.
After the case, Smith said he thinks the sentence was appropriate and had Fitzsimmons gone to trial, 25 years would have been the starting point for the punishment.
“I understand addiction,” Smith said, but added that what people need to understand is that meth addiction has collateral consequences.
“People who use meth do things other than just use or sell meth,” Smith said. “These are often people who commit murders, who end up raping or sexually assaulting our children. These are the people who commit the vast majority of property crimes.”
Jerrie Whiteley is the Criminal Justice Editor for the Herald Democrat. She can be reached at JWhiteley@HeraldDemocrat.com.