Judge describes Lufkin counselor's testimony

Juanda Morgan mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Juanda Morgan mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Mark Sutton mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Mark Sutton mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The trial of two Lufkin counselors accused of perjury began Tuesday morning.

Mark Sutton and Juanda Morgan, who are married, are accused of lying under oath in a child custody hearing.

In Tuesday's opening arguments, District Attorney Clyde Herrington said two boys fathered by Mike Shelfo were undergoing counseling by Morgan. Herrington said Shelfo went to Morgan's office on Feb. 27, 2008, with a concealed tape recorder.

According to Herrington, in an April 14, 2008, custody hearing, Morgan said Shelfo began to yell very loud at her so Morgan said she did something she would do if she were dealing with a meth addict and crouched into a fetal position.

Herrington said Sutton testified that Shelfo's screaming was so loud that he heard it from his office.

Herrington closed his opening argument by saying, "Morgan and Sutton intentionally engaged in making false statements knowing they were significant in this case."

Defense attorney John Tunnel testified that Morgan had no motive to shape her testimony. He also said the jury will find that Shelfo did get upset and raise his voice and evidence will show Shelfo molded and shape the tape to his own preferences. He said there were several significant breaks in the tape.

Tunnel also said Morgan would testify in the case.

County Court-At-Law Judge Robert Inselmann was the first witness called by the state. He said Morgan testified in the April hearing that Shelfo "screamed at the top of his lungs, well I don't know what the top of his lungs are, but it was very loud."

Inselmann also said Morgan testified that Shelfo was the second worst instance of someone she had to deal with her in her office, the first being a meth addict. He said Morgan testified that she slowed her breathing and got into a submissive position while he was yelling at her.

Inselmann said during that hearing, it was brought to his attention that there was a recording of the conversation in question. Inselmann said he listened to the tape alone in his house the first time, then contacted Morgan to arrange a meeting. He told her the recording appeared to be inconsistent with her testimony.

Inselmann then said Morgan insisted Shelfo was yelling, but that it was more menacing and aggressive, and not of rage.

Morgan is charged with five counts of aggravated perjury and Sutton is charged with two counts of the same charge.