Angelina Co. Sheriff: Zavalla man threatened to kill wife, brought gun to courthouse

Preston Moody (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Preston Moody (Source: Angelina County Jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Angelina County Sheriff's deputies arrested a 45-year-old Zavalla man Wednesday morning after he allegedly showed up at a custody hearing at the courthouse with a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol in his vehicle.

Preston Robert Moody was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful carrying of a firearm. No bail has been set for the aggravated assault charge yet.

Angelina County Sheriff Greg Sanches said the custody hearing didn't occur because Moody allegedly called in a death threat to his wife. Sanches said he increased security at the courthouse by placing deputies inside and outside the courthouse in anticipation of Moody's arrival.

When Moody arrived at the courthouse, he went over to his attorney's office and came back outside to his vehicle, Sanches said. At that point, ACSO Lt. Pete Maskunas stopped Moody and asked for consent to search his vehicle. Moody said no.

Based on previous threats Moody had made against his wife, authorities were able to obtain a search warrant for the vehicle within a few hours. Moody was arrested and transported to the Angelina County Jail after the .45-caliber pistol was found in his vehicle.

"We'll never know what his intentions were," Sanches. "Thank God we caught it before the situation got out of hand. We did what we needed to do to make the courthouse safe."

Sanches said according to Texas law, individuals with prior assault-family violence charge convictions are not allowed to carry firearms even if those convictions are for misdemeanor charge.

Wednesday's arrest marks the third time in two months that Moody has been arrested. He was arrested on June 7 for assault-family violence, and he was arrested on July 3 for aggravated kidnapping.

According to the complaint frilled with the Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace office, the June 7 arrest stems from an incident that occurred on June. 1. Moody's wife told ACSO deputies that when she came home that day, her husband accused her of sleeping with his cousin and made her leave their residence.

The woman put two of their kids into her vehicle, but the youngest child stayed on the porch with Moody even though she tried to coax her son into the car.

"Preston jumped off the porch and ran to the vehicle," the complaint stated. "He opened the driver's side door and grabbed [his wife] by the hair and around the neck trying to pull her from the vehicle."

Moody allegedly kept trying to pull at the steering wheel. During the scuffle, the wife's foot slipped and hit the accelerator, causing the vehicle to hit a tree. At that point, the couple's children were screaming and Moody grabbed his wife around the neck, the complaint stated.

A neighbor heard the ruckus, came from across the street, and told Moody to stop. The complaint stated that Moody told the neighbor to leave or "he would take care of everybody there." After the wife and three children fled to the neighbor's house, they called 911.

The complaint stated deputies took pictures of injuries to the woman's back, neck, and arm. Advising the deputies that she fears for her and her children's lives, the wife told them Moody had been threatening and abusing her for the past 10 years.

Moody was arrested and charged with assault-family violence with a previous conviction on June 7. He posted a $10,000 bail and was released later that day. On the same day, his wife filed a protective order against him.

The aggravated kidnapping charge stems from a June 24 incident. On that date, Moody texted his son and told him to ask his mother to come by and get some money for her and the kids, the complaint stated.

When the woman arrived at Moody's residence, he allegedly started cursing and screaming at her. According to the affidavit, he took a .22-caliber rifle out of her vehicle, grabbed her arm, and dragged her into the residence.

Once they were inside, Moody allegedly emptied her purse out because he was looking for her cell phone, the complaint stated. When he couldn't find it, he reportedly fired two shots in the kitchen, "causing her to fear for her life."

At that point, Moody grabbed his wife and forced her into the bathroom. He allegedly pulled out a pocket knife and held it to her stomach. The complaint stated Moody told her that he would killer her if she didn't get their kids into the truck.

Under duress, she put their kids in the vehicle, and the wife and children were forced to ride with him to San Augustine County, where another assault allegedly took place.

Moody was arrested on the aggravated kidnapping charge on July 3. Three days later, he posted a $75,000 bail and was released.

According to Angelina County court records, Moody was first convicted on a misdemeanor assault-family violence charge in 2002. He was given one year of probation for the charge. After a second assault-family violence arrest in 2004, the charge was upgraded to a third-degree felony, and he pleaded guilty to that charge on March 19, 2007.

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