The former chief of the Celeste Volunteer Fire Department has been indicted of aggravated assault, involving an incident reported at the department in January 2019.
Joseph Lee Horton was initially arrested on the charge less than one week after being honored as Hunt County’s First Responder Chief of the Year.
The indictment was one of several issued on June 19, as the existing grand jury met for the final monthly session of its six-month term of presenting evidence in felony cases for consideration by the 196th District Court. A new grand jury will be seated in July to begin a new six-month term of presenting cases for the 354th District Court.
The panel also indicted a local man for two alleged residential break-ins and another man was charged with multiple counts of indecency with a child.
• Horton, 32, of Celeste, was indicted on one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Hunt County sheriff’s deputies were reported to have responded at about 8 p.m. Jan. 28, 2019 to an assault in progress at the fire department at 102 S. 2nd St. in Celeste. An investigation determined a verbal altercation escalated into a physical assault and during the confrontation it is alleged Horton made threats while holding a knife.
Horton was arrested and booked into the Hunt County Detention Center on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was released the next morning on a $5,000 surety bond.
Horton was among those honored the previous weekend during the Hunt Regional Hospital 21st Annual Banquet, held at the Fletcher Warren Civic Center in Greenville. Horton was named as First Responder Fire Chief of the Year during the event.
Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony, punishable by a maximum sentence upon conviction of two to 20 years in prison and an optional $10,000 fine.
• Preston Cole Halbrook, 19, of Greenville, received two indictments for burglary of a habitation. Halbrook was arrested on the charges, and a separate count of burglary of a building, by the West Tawakoni Police Department on Sept. 4, 2019.
The burglaries were alleged to have occurred on Aug. 19 and 20, 2019. Halbrook was reported to have been released on a total of $50,000 bond on Dec. 6, 2019.
The burglary of a habitation charges are listed as second-degree felonies.
• Jason Paul Murrell, 44, no address available, received two indictments for indecency with a child by sexual contact. Murrell was alleged to have committed the acts on or about July 1, 2019. Murrell was taken into custody on Feb. 21 by the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office and was later released on a total of $50,000 bond. The charges were filed as second-degree felonies.
No hearings concerning arraignments on the above indictments were immediately scheduled with the 196th District Court.
The specifics of the cases which are presented to a grand jury are kept confidential until the panel decides whether or not to issue indictments.
The grand jury can either issue indictments — or “true bills” — or determine its investigation did not find sufficient evidence to issue an indictment, in which case a “no bill” is issued.