LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email
LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - A Diboll man who made headlines as part of a national prank ring will begin serving a five-year prison sentence.
District Judge Barry Bryan issued the sentence Tuesday morning to James Tyler Markle, 20, and said he would consider shock probation for him between 90 and 120 days.
Markle left the courtroom visibly upset with the sentence, hugging family members on his way out.
In June 2009, Markle called a Lufkin McDonald's and tricked an employee to activate the fire extinguishers and break four windows, costing the business thousands of dollars.
Bryan also ordered Markle to pay restitution to Lufkin Fire Department and McDonald's.
"Today's decision was very tough for the family," said Markle's great aunt, Betty Barkley. "Of course, we had prayed for probation for Tyler because he is a very nice, respectful young man."
Although Markle has taken responsibility for his actions, his family says the Internet is partially to blame.
"I've been upset with the Internet for a long time," Barkley said. "There's just too many things out there that you can do, things that you can find."
"You have to take responsibility for your own actions," Det. Otis Almond said. "People like to get on the Internet and search for things and do things and some of them think they can do it without getting caught. The thing I always like to say is you go to the well one time too many, you're going to get caught."
Almond, a computer forensics examiner, was the detective on Markle's case.
He says the number of Web scams is on the rise, especially during the holidays.
"The Internet, I don't want to say it's the root of all evil, but it sure hasn't helped a lot," Almond said.
He says it's only a matter of time before people like Markle are caught.
"You do get caught up in the play per say, it's kind of like an addiction," Almond said.