Nacogdoches man gets 30 years in prison for armed robbery of SFA student

DeMarcus Wade mug shot courtesy of Nacogdoches County Jail
DeMarcus Wade mug shot courtesy of Nacogdoches County Jail
Manuel Villanueva
Manuel Villanueva

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches jury has sentenced DeMarcus Andre Wade, 23, to 30 years in prison for his role in the aggravated robbery of an SFA student.

That same jury panel took only six minutes to return a guilty verdict Wednesday morning in the trial of DeMarcus Andre Wade.

The 23-year-old has been found guilty of aggravated robbery.  According to SFA police, two men approached a man in an SFA parking lot in January.  The passenger in the car pulled a handgun and demanded the man's wallet and cell phone.

During closing arguments Wednesday morning defense attorneys argued Wade was not guilty because he was not the person in the car that committed the robbery.  While prosecutors said all evidence, including the victim's description and videotape, concluded Wade was responsible.

Wade faced a maximum punishment of up to 99 years in prison.

Criminal convictions for Wade is nothing new.

"There were at least 10 convictions in the last four years and I believe that plays an important role to show that the person hasn't been rehabilitated and he's going to continue doing what he's been doing and things have been getting progressively worse," said prosecutor Christin Lane.

The worst event happened to Manuel Villanueva. Wade pointed a gun at the 20 year old nursing student and stole his cellphone and wallet containing $2, two credit cards and identification.

"I'm glad they sentenced him and gave him 30 years," Villanueva said. "He needs to be held accountable for what he did."

While wade was committing armed robberies, Manuel was living on campus taking a full college course load and maintaining a high grade point average. In addition, he had a 25-hour a week job. The son of a teenage mom who dropped out of high school knows his whole family ended up making the right choices.

"They went against all the statistics," Villanueva said. "My mom got a degree. My dad got a good job. And my parents always said do the right thing, get good grades, go to college and good things will happen.>

"For this to happen has been upsetting but I'm glad it turned out the way it did," Diana Villanueva said. "And it's only going to get better from here."

Meanwhile, Wade, according to his attorney, Winfred Simmons, isn't accepting the jury's verdict.

"He claims his innocence," Simmons said. "I think there's going to be an appeal forthcoming."

It won't block SFA Police from letting Wade's conviction send an important message.

"You're not going to come onto campus and rob people with a weapon," Chief Marc Cossich said.

Two men, close in age, taking different paths in life. There are influencing factors, but others would argue it's ultimately the individual who makes the choice.

Previous trial results:

Manuel Villanueva was the first person on the stand. He described how one night in January, he was walking to his dorm at Hall 14 from the recreation center when a car pulled up and one of the men inside asked if he could "bust a 20."

Villanueva told them he said he could not and kept walking. That is when the duo did a U-turn and came back and the passenger pulled a gun and demanded his money and wallet.

Villanueva said he gave them what they wanted and they drove off. He said he then called police and officers from SFA arrived within five minutes.

Villanueva said he had $2, a credit card, a debit card, a driver's license, worker identification and other forms of identification in his wallet. He said Wade was the passenger in the car.

He had immediately turned off his accounts, but authorities had them reactivated to monitor activity. A couple days later, his debit card was used at a Chevron on University Drive.

Wade's attorney, Winfred Simmons, tried to discredit Villanueva's testimony by saying that Villanueva first saw Wade's face on the evening news.

Villanueva continuously insisted he recognized Wade's face as the person who robbed him.

Simmons also tried to discredit him by referring to Villanueva's initial description, which differed from Wade's actual appearance. But Villanueva continued to insist that he recognized Wade's face.

In later testimony, SFA Det. Richard Shelton testified he pulled a video taken from a parking garage camera that showed the suspect car at the intersection where the car traveled. Det. Amanda Kennedy testified that bank records obtained on January 18 showed two credit cards were used within 30 minutes of each other on January 16, the day of the robbery.

Kennedy also testified that video led to a connection to the car at Sutherland's, where they learned who the owner of the car was and she was able to tell police the names of the suspects, which led to their arrests.

A jury in May sentenced Wade's co-defendant, Jerry Don Thorn, to 35 years in prison.

Wade's mother doesn't want the same for her son.

"Nobody went looking for a gun," she said. "And nobody had proven they had a gun. They only basically going on what the victim said. I'm hoping for the better, but it may be worse, I don't know."

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All rights reserved.