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February 28, 2014

Conviction, prison sentence on weapons charge

Tawater jury deadlocked on remaining counts

GREENVILLE — A Hunt County jury sent a Greenville man to state prison Thursday on a weapons charge.

But the panel was unable to reach a verdict on charges of aggravated assault and deadly conduct involving two different shootings in July 2013.

Royce William Tawater, 27, of Greenville, was found guilty of one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. The jury in the 354th District Court sentenced Tawater to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division, with a $10,000 fine.

The jury was hung on two counts of aggravated assault and one charge of deadly conduct, according to Hunt County District Attorney Noble D. Walker Jr., who added he expects to retry the cases.

“We were pleased that the jury assessed the maximum sentence available for the offense they found the defendant guilty of,” Walker said. “Although we’re disappointed by the mistrials, we certainly respect the jury’s decision and anticipate re-trying the remaining three cases.”

Tawater was alleged in the assault indictments to have shot and wounded a Greenville man, and to have pointed a handgun and/or fired a gun at a male victim on July 1, 2013. The deadly conduct indictment alleged Tawater fired in the direction of a residence in the 3900 block of Sayle Street on July 27, 2013.

Tawater had one previous felony conviction listed on the indictments, for injury to a child by an act in 2008.

The aggravated assault indictments are punishable upon conviction by a maximum sentence of from two to 20 years in prison, while the deadly conduct charge carries a maximum sentence upon conviction.

“I really appreciated my assistant Steven Lilley’s hard work representing the State in this trial,” Walker said. “Also, Detective Jaime Fuller and Officer Victor Petrea with the Greenville Police Department put together a very good case for the prosecution.”

Unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon is a third degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and an optional fine up to $10,000.

“However, based on the defendant’s criminal history, his punishment range was enhanced to a second degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and an optional fine up to $10,000,” Walker said.

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