YEAR IN REVIEW: Major criminal cases grabbed headlines in GC in 2020

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat

In a year when a virus curtailed many court proceedings throughout Texas and the nation, two that actually took place in Grayson County grabbed headlines.

One of the two involved a public official who had too much to drink and the other involved a drug deal that claimed the life of a child.

Grayson County Judge Bill Magers makes welcoming comments at the Grayson County Republican Party Lincoln Reagan Dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn in Denison in February 2018.

Grayson County Judge Bill Magers pleaded guilty in June to a driving while intoxicated 2nd offense charge that arose from a situation in February. He was sentenced to 365 days in the county jail probated for 12 months. Judge Carol Siebman set as conditions of that probation that Magers must pay a $4,000 fine, do 200 hours of community service work at an organization like Mothers Against Drunk Driving or Four Rivers Outreach, maintain an interlock device on his vehicle and continue with outpatient DWI treatment including taking a monthly shot that helps curb alcohol cravings and inhibits intoxication. She also said that he must serve some time in the county jail but did not specify how much time or when it must be served. At the time of the plea, Magers' attorney Bob Jarvis said the judge's order said, the jail time was probated “until the governor’s order about COVID-19 changes the world,” and left it at that.

Earlier this month, Magers applied to the court to have the deep lung device removed from his vehicle and the next day, the court had a letter approving that removal mailed to Magers according to court records available online. There were no violations of any kind listed on the court records. 

Testimony during Magers' sentencing hearing revealed how the arrest occurred. During the hearing, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper testified that he was in the parking lot of the Valero gas station in the 3700 block of U.S. Highway 765 at around 10 p.m. on Feb. 19 when he heard what sounded like a vehicle crash. He looked up and saw the truck that he would later found out belonged to Magers had struck a light pole in the parking lot of the Schulman's Movie Bowl Grille. The trooper said he then watched as the person driving that vehicle left Schulman's and drove across the highway to another gas station.

The trooper followed and the truck stopped.

The driver, who later identified himself as Bill Magers, got out of the truck and began looking around the back of the truck, the trooper said. The truck had struck the light pole with the front end of the truck so that was odd, he continued.

The trooper also testified that the driver smelled of alcohol and could not complete a sentence or thought out loud. He also refused to do a standard field sobriety test.

The trooper said Magers was never rude to him in any way and never took a "Do you know how I am?" kind of attitude. He simply said he had been told by an attorney to never agree to field sobriety tests. His blood was later tested at a local hospital and his blood alcohol was found to be 3.5 times the legal limit.

The day after the arrest, Magers addressed the matter with the media and said he took full responsibility for his actions and apologized to his family for embarrassing them. He would later apologize to county staff and his fellows on the county's commissioner's court for his actions which shown a harsh light on the county.

The sentencing hearing took place in the County Court-at-law 2 under COVID-19 restrictions which limited the number of people who could be in the courtroom. Media members were not allowed in the courtroom due to those restrictions, but were allowed to watch the proceedings from a separate room by Judge Carol Siebman.

Magers was first elected as Grayson County Judge back in May of 2014 after taking on three other Republicans for the position after Grayson County Judge Drue Bynum decided not to seek another term. Magers had previously served as the mayor of the city of Sherman. A graduate of both Sherman High School and Austin College, Magers was born and raised in Sherman.

Antonio Prado Jr. was convicted this year in the 2017 murder of 5-year-old Kason  Powell.

The second most high profile case of the year saw a Denison family shattered by drug related violence face the trial of one of the people responsible for the death of their child.  

Antonio Prado Jr. was convicted on November 6 of murder in the shooting death of five-year-old Kason Powell. Kason was killed in November of 2017.

Jurors convicted Prado after a two and a half day trial. During that time testimony and evidence revealed that It started on Nov. 19, 2017 when Prado and two other people drove to the house where Kason Powell lived with his family in Denison. Testimony in the case this week revealed that the shooting that happened that night sprang from a drug deal that went horribly wrong when Kason Powell's older brother arranged to purchase marijuana but took the drug without paying instead. The alleged drug dealer, Sabrino Nino, had received the drugs without paying for them from Prado.

Prosecutors said when Prado learned of the theft, he, Nino and Ryan Clay went looking for the teen who took the drugs.

Testimony revealed that the three found the home where the teen lived, but he was not there. Instead, inside the home were his parents and three younger siblings. Kason Powell was killed and his 11-year-old brother was seriously injured in the shooting. 

After jurors convicted Pardo but before he was sentenced, the state and Prado's defense attorney  Nelson Knight came to an agreement which ended the case there with Prado accepting a life sentence on the murder charge. 

Grayson County court records show that Nino's case is set for an open plea to the court on Jan. 20 in the 15th state district court at 9 a.m. An open plea means she doesn't have an agreement with the District Attorney's Office about what sentence she will receive in the case.

Court records do not show a date for any sort of resolution of Clay's part of the case. His last plea date was set in June of 2018. 

Then, while they were waiting to start hearing evidence in the punishment phase of the trial, they were told that Prado had accepted a plea deal.