SAN ANGELO, TX – The Tom Green County jury that found Dusty Thompson guilty of stealing cattle late yesterday afternoon sentenced him to five years in prison this Thursday morning but suspended the sentence and he was placed on community supervision probation and fined $5,000.
The jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before reaching the sentence. Thompson was convicted of a third degree felony and was facing two to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
He was eligible for probation because he had not been convicted of a felony before this trial.
The morning began with District Judge Carmen Dusek reading the charge, or instructions, to the jury followed by closing arguments from the prosecution and defense.
It took approximately 12 minutes to read the charge.
Assistant District Attorney Brent Ratekin began his closing argument using an easel to illustrate the range of punishment for jurors.
Ratekin told jurors they would set the standard for justice in Tom Green County for cattle theft. "Justice is what the jury says it is," he said.
Then Thompson's attorney Gonzalo Rios addressed the jury.
"Good people make mistakes. Dusty Thompson is a good person and the people who testified for him are good people," he argued. Rios asked the jury to place him on probation so he could take care of his family and his business. "He made a mistake and he's going to pay for it." Rios said.
Ratekin's final rebuttal was more harsh. "2 + 2 = 5 is a mistake. You don't get convicted for a mistake," he said. Ratekin went on to say a grown man doesn't harass, terrorize or bully witnesses the way Thompson did and actions should have consequences.
Standing in front of the jury, Ratekin asked the jury, "Thompson may be probation eligible, but is he probation worthy?"
After the assistant D.A. finished his remarks the jury retired to the jury room and began deliberations at around 9:36 a.m.
The jury informed the court it had reached a sentence around 11:10 a.m. and returned to the courtroom.
Judge Dusek had Thompson and his attorney stand as she read the sentence.
The jury sentenced Thompson to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000 but suspended the sentence and placed him on community supervision probation.