Burnet man avoids long-term prison sentence after jury finds him guilty of lesser charge

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BURNET — A 46-year-old Burnet man faced up to life in prison on two first-degree felony charges, but a Burnet County Jury didn’t buy the prosecution’s case and found the man guilty of a misdemeanor trespassing charge.

The difference was almost 98 years with the jury giving Billy Roy Schweinebraten Jr. one year behind bars on the Class A misdemeanor trespassing conviction April 16.

The state charged Schweinebraten with two counts of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. A conviction on either one of those could have brought up to 99 years or life in prison.

“It had huge ramifications,” said defense attorney Eddie Shell, who represented the man in District Judge Dan Mills’ court. “If he had been convicted (of the first-degree charges), he was subject to a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison.”

The man faced burglary charges after he allegedly broke into his ex-wife’s Burnet residence in August 2012. Schweinebraten then allegedly had “an altercation” with another man in the home.

During the trial, which began April 15, the prosecution put the ex-wife and the other man on the stand.

Shell said during cross-examination he tried to point out the inconsistencies in the two state witnesses’ testimony.

Schweinebraten did not testify during his trial.

When both prosecution and defense had rested, Shell asked the judge to allow the jury to consider the lesser charge of criminal trespass.

After about three hours of deliberation, Shell said the jury returned not guilty verdicts on the two burglary charges but guilty on the misdemeanor criminal trespass.

Schweinebraten was sentenced to one year in jail, but since he had already been behind bars for about eight months, Shell said the judge basically discharged the sentence.

The man, however, is still being held in the Burnet County Jail on an unrelated charge, according to jail records.

Picayune Staff Writer Connie Swinney contributed to this report.

daniel@thepicayune.com