FROM STAFF REPORTS
Before State District Judge Evan Stubbs sentenced a convicted drug dealer to eight decades in prison on March 1, the judge addressed the 47-year-old man and his family.
“The problem is we have eleven prior felonies and a bunch of prior misdemeanors, and (the defendant) has had as many chances as anyone I’ve ever seen,” Stubbs said. “He’s a repeat drunk driver. He’s a thief. He’s a person who evades arrest. He’s a reckless driver. He’s an addict.
“And, most importantly,” Stubbs continued, “he’s a drug dealer.”
The judge then sentenced Lucio Roy Atkinson of Cottonwood Shores to 80 years in prison for manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance.
Stubbs did express his sympathy for the man’s family.
“Roy has made his choices, and that’s the situation we’re in,” the judge added.
The trial, which started Feb. 19, centered on a Jan. 28, 2017, traffic stop in the Spicewood area. A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper pulled over Atkinson for a traffic violation. During the stop, the trooper found 244 Clonazepam tablets, many other prescription pills, injectable steroids, and approximately an ounce of marijuana in the man’s vehicle, according to a media release from the 33rd & 424th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
This wasn’t the defendant’s first run-in with the law. According to the District Attorney’s Office, Atkinson has 11 prior felony convictions and 16 prior misdemeanor convictions.
During the trial, prosecutors called to the stand Jack Schumacher, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent and current District Attorney’s Office chief investigator. Schumacher testified he reviewed text messages retrieved from Atkinson’s phone for the 15 days prior to the man’s arrest. According to the District Attorney’s Office, Schumacher told jurors he was able to identify at least 19 buyers of different drugs from Atkinson as well as three probable suppliers.
The investigator also told the court Atkinson was dealing steroids, illegal prescription drugs, cocaine, marijuana, and meth.
On Feb. 21, a Burnet County jury convicted Atkinson on the drug charge. Following his conviction, the defendant chose to have the judge assess punishment.
During the sentencing phase on March 1, prosecutors introduced Atkinson’s extensive criminal record and showed evidence the convicted drug dealer had used meth and committed other crimes while awaiting trial, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The defense called members of Atkinson’s family to the stand, who testified the man had changed since the arrest. Family members asked the judge to consider drug treatment for Atkinson.
Due to Atkinson’s previous convictions, his punishment ranged from 25 years to 99 years, or life, in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Erin Toolan said she was pleased with the jury’s guilty verdict and the judge’s punishment assessment.
“As the judge said at sentencing, most of our cases — whether drug possession, assaults, or child endangerment — involve the use of drugs,” she said. “So people who sell drugs in this community are the cause or, at least, the catalyst for a lot of pain and sorrow when others are victimized by drug abusers.”
District Attorney Sonny McAfee agreed and hoped other drug dealers are taking note of the long prison terms juries and judges are dispensing in these cases.
“Three weeks ago, a jury in Llano put a man in prison for life for dealing methamphetamine,” McAfee stated in a media release. “And, in this case, the judge gave the defendant eighty years for dealing drugs. I hope every drug dealer and would-be drug dealer gets the message today: As a community, we won’t put up with the spread of this poison.”