BIG BAG OF CRAZY GUILTY!
SAN ANGELO, TX -- A Tom Green County jury deliberated about two hours before finding Chelsea Jo Strube guilty of arson Friday evening after a week long trial.
Our reporter in the courtroom said Strube looked straight forward as visiting Senior District Judge Brock Jones read the verdict. Her defense attorney Gonzalo Rios seemed to be agitated.
District Attorney Allison Palmer who prosecuted the case seemed pleased with the verdict.
The jury began deliberating at 3:46 p.m. after an hour of closing arguments in which Palmer reviewed evidence showing Strube admitted to being in the Deadhorse parking lot the night Shelby Siler's car was set on fire but didn't totally burn down. Witnesses drove to the Texas Theatre on the night of Sept. 8, 2015 and reported to San Angelo Police officers there that there was a car fire in the Deadhorse Bar parking lot. A firefighter testified he pulled a burning rag out of the gas tank filler tube preventing the vehicle from burning.
Rios spent hours and hours focusing on the 911 calls Strube made about seeing an intruder at the Texas Theatre on the night of Sept. 8, 2015. The 911 calls place Strube in downtown San Angelo one block from the Deadhorse Bar parking lot where the arson took place.
Videos from two San Angelo Police cars appeared to show vehicles driving out of the ally between the former Tarpley Music building and the Deadhorse parking lot.
In the final day of the trial, Rios put private investigator Jesse Calloway on the stand. Rios spent hours using multiple photographs attempting to convince the jury that the car in the video obtained from the O.C. Fisher Federal Courthouse on Twohig St. showed a vehicle leaving a parking lot and not the alley. Earlier testimony from the witness who reported the fire to officers showed Strube's Ford Mustang exited the alley.
Rios told jurors in his 30 minute closing argument that investigators lifted fingerprints from the fire damaged car near the gas tank filler. Palmer reminded jurors that Strube was wearing rubber kitchen gloves which were entered as evidence so there would be no finger prints.
As for the Big Bag of Crazy, Rios attempted to convince jurors that Crime Scene Investigators placed items in that bag. Palmer reminded jurors that CSI personnel photographed the items in the bag in Strube's Mustang as they were. Palmer said in closing that bag made it easy to carry items needed to start the car fire in the Deadhorse parking lot and then back to where Strube's Mustang was parked.
The seven men and five women on the jury apparently believed D.A. Palmer and found Strube guilty of second degree felony arson.
After the jury found Stube guilty, Judge Jones sent the jury home for the weekend. The punishment phase of the trial will begin on Monday at 9 a.m.
Strube is facing two to 20 years in prison, restitution and a fine of up to $10,000.
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