JUNCTION, TX -- Shaelan Derek Rodgers pleaded guilty to engaging in organized criminal activity on May 8, 2018 in 452nd District Court in Junction, the county seat of Kimble County, and was sentenced Monday by District Judge Robert Hofmann.
Rodgers was a car salesman at All American Chevrolet and All American Dodge in San Angelo. He was indicted by a Kimble County Grand Jury on June 30, 2017 for organized criminal activity by conspiring to deliver a controlled substance, methamphetamine, in several West Texas counties. Testimony showed that Rodgers at times would push up to a pound of methamphetamine a day in four counties; Tom Green, Concho, Menard and Kimble.
The first degree felony is punishable by 5 - 99 years or life in prison and a $10,000 fine. Because Rodgers' charges were not enhanced by prior felony convictions, he was eligible for deferred adjudication probation.
The 47-paragraph indictment named 12 co-conspirators including Rodgers, Gabriel Escamilla, Susan Meacham, Sherry Ladd, Marybell Anguiano, Leroy Anguiano, Lisa Lombrana, Micah Meador, Timothy Rios, Dean Gonzalez, Randall Ruiz and Patricia Hensley.
The courtroom in the Kimble County Courthouse is on the second floor of the 114 year old building. The walls are painted a faded light blue and there are curtains covering windows on three sides of the courtroom. The room is wider, but not as long as the large courtroom in the Tom Green County Courthouse. The low hum of the air conditioner was constant as it tried to keep the heat out of the courthouse surrounded by ancient pecan trees.
Assistant 452nd District Attorney Luke Davis called seven witnesses for the prosecution Monday morning in Junction. First on the stand was Kimble County Sheriff Hilario Cantu. Cantu testified that methamphetamine is a huge problem in rural counties in Texas including Kimble County where the root of most criminal activity is drug possession and property crimes to get money for drugs.
Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division investigator John Cox testified next. Cox told the court Rodgers was part of a larger investigation into the manufacture and delivery of meth. Cox arrested Rodgers at his home on Duckworth Rd in northeastern Tom Green County. Cox said that in a recorded phone call from the Tom Green County Jail, Rodgers told his mother to go to his house and remove some ‘stuff’ from his house that would get him into even more trouble.
Cox described Rodgers' meth distribution ring as significant in size.
Randall Ruiz was then called to the stand for the prosecution. Ruiz is a co-conspirator who took a plea deal. He described how on August 12, 2016 he and 17-year-old Shay Valdez of Menard drove to San Angelo to buy meth from Rodgers. They smoked meth with Rodgers and then drove back to Menard. Valdez later that day died of a drug overdose.
Then Marybell Anguiano of Junction took the stand. She testified that she would pick up meth from Rodgers for her personal use and take some back to Junction to sell. She would then transfer money to Rodgers via Western Union. Court documents show Rodgers and his co-conspirators communicated dozens of times over Facebook messenger.
San Angelo Police Detective Chris Chappa took the stand after Anguiano. Chappa testified that he interviewed Rodgers who admitted that his supplier was Gilbert Martinez, known as “Chuco,” who got his methamphetamine from drug cartels in Mexico. Rodgers told Detective Chappa he received one pound of meth from Chuco more than ten times and one half pound of meth over 20 times. Chappa testified that Rodgers said in his interview that he charged $600 per ounce of methamphetamine. That's $9,600 per pound. Testimony showed Rodgers was charged with pushing meth for 401 days from May 25, 2016 to January 25, 2017. At $9,600 per pound per day that equates to $3,849,600.
Concho County Sheriff’s Deputy Stephen Jones testified next. Jones was dispatched to a domestic dispute on Feb. 4, 2018 to Rodger’s mother’s house in Eden. Rodgers was outside waiving a gun and threatening to shoot any officer who responded. Rodgers left the house and drove to the Sheriff’s dispatch office in Eden where Rodger’s sister was the dispatcher. He yelled at her and she later testified he had a gun. Deputy Jones said they didn’t attempt take Rodgers into custody because he had said he wanted them to shoot him; they suspected he was attempting to "commit suicide by cop."
Rodgers was arrested without incident the next day.
The final witness for the prosecution was Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Jacob Crumpton, who lived next door to Rodger’s mother in Eden. He testified that he received a message the night of Feb. 4 from law enforcement that Rodgers was outside his house with a gun. Crumpton got his pregnant wife and his two children into a back bedroom and then armed himself and waited in his living room all night. Rodgers left the scene that night, but Crumpton took his family out of the Concho County for safety.
Davis rested the state’s case at 11:37 a.m Monday morning.
Defense Attorney Fred Brigman called six witnesses in Rodger’s defense including Rodgers himself.
Rodgers’s mother testified that he was a good man and a good father until his own father died in 2016 and his wife divorced him the same year. She said she had no idea that he was using or selling drugs. Rodgers cried and rocked back in forth in his chair as his mother took the stand.
Also testifying about Rodger’s character was his lifelong friend, San Angeloan Freddie Gonzalez who testified Rodgers deserved probation and treatment for drug addiction. Tiffany Ortega is related to Rodgers by marriage and also testified she had no idea he was using or dealing drugs. Bradley Gandy is Rodger’s cousin who lives in Eden. He also testified Rodgers was a good man with a drug problem.
Rodger’s ex-wife was next to testify in his defense. She said he always had a good job and paid child support until he was arrested.
Shaelan Rodgers was the final witness to take the witness stand in his own defense. He cried on the stand describing how meth destroys your body and mind. He said he never stopped using from the first night he smoked meth with his cousin, Gabriel Escamilla. He pleaded with the court to sentence him to probation and drug treatment. “I don’t know what I am, sir. I am lost. I deserve probation with help.” Rodgers said.
Following closing arguments, sentencing was up to District Judge Hofmann.
Judge Hofmann had Rodgers stand up. He told the 34-year-old that he found him guilty as charged. Then the Judge said, “I see by your record that you are about to turn 35-years-old, so I’m sentencing you to 35 years in prison.”
The Judge also ordered Rodgers to pay a $10,000 fine.
Rodgers was taken into custody in the courtroom by Kimble County Sheriff's Deputies and was transported to the Kimble County Jail in Junction to begin his sentence.
Rodgers is facing a jury trial in Tom Green County in July for drug charges.