A central Texas man has been sentenced to a term in state jail for leading area law enforcement authorities on a high speed chase through the Royse City area.

Jody Gordon Merritt of Bastrop entered a plea of guilty in the 196th District Court Tuesday to one count of evading arrest with a vehicle. Under a plea bargain arrangement Merritt, 36, was sentenced to 365 days in a state jail.

Merritt was indicted in January by the Hunt County grand jury last month.

Merritt was observed by a Texas Department of Public Safety officer driving a passenger car at approximately 100 miles per hour westbound along Interstate 30 on the night of Dec. 23, 2006.

Merritt was alleged to have reached speeds of up to 120 miles per hour along the interstate before exiting at Farm-to-Market Road 548. Merritt was accused of spinning the car out at a stop sign, then to have proceeded southbound on the farm road. Merritt circled a gas station, according to the complaint, then turned northbound on FM 548 and headed toward downtown Royse City. Merritt was alleged to have run several stop signs while inside the Royse City limits and was observed to have thrown a package believed to contain marijuana and a box out of the vehicle.

Merritt returned to Interstate 30 and headed westbound, but his car was brought to a halt after a DPS trooper from Rockwall spiked the tires on the vehicle. Merritt was found to have an odor of alcohol on his breath and a cooler with cold beers was discovered in the front seat of the vehicle.

The evading arrest charge carried a maximum sentence upon conviction of from 180 days to two years in a state jail and an optional fine of up to $10,000.

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