Zavalla man gets 2 years state jail, 5 years probation for assaulting wife, threatening law enforcement

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

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A day after a jury found 46-year-old Preston Robert Moody of Zavalla guilty of assaulting his wife and bringing a gun to the courthouse, they handed down a sentence of two years in state jail for assault-family violence and five years of probation for retaliation Wednesday afternoon.

Moody pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault-family violence and a second charge of retaliation. His trial is being held in Judge Barry Bryan's 217th Judicial District Court.

The incident happened on June 7, 2013. Moody was arrested for that incident on June 1, according to Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace office. According to the complaint, 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 home.

While Moody's wife put two of their three children in her car, Moody "jumped off the porch and ran to the vehicle. 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," the complaint stated.

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 Moody's wife advised deputies she fears for her and her children's lives and that 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. He posted a $10,000 bail and was released later that day. His wife filed a protective order against him.

The state opened the sentencing hearing Wednesday by telling the jury in opening arguments that they are going to be asking for the maximum sentence.

The state's first witness was Lt. Pete Maskunas from the Angelina County Sheriff's Office. Maskunas said he received information that there was an individual, Moody, that might commit an offense at the Courthouse.

Maskunas said that he and several other detectives set up a perimeter at the courthouse and waited for Moody. Maskunas said when he approached Moody he appeared to be angry, agitated, had an uncooperative attitude. He asked Moody if he had a weapon in his vehicle and he said he did but denied law enforcement consent to search the vehicle. The sheriff's office got a search warrant and found a loaded, un-holstered weapon in the vehicle.

Cassie Moody described a previous event where her husband was hitting her repeatedly in the car. She went on to say that her husband picked up the .22 and pointed it at her and pulled the hammer back.

"At that point I was pretty sure he was going to kill me," Cassie Moody said. "I pulled my pocket knife out of my pocket and stabbed him to defend myself."

Cassie Moody said that eventually Preston agreed to go to the hospital. A deputy came to talk with them about what happened and she said that Preston told her what to say to the police because if she told them what really happened, she would go to jail and her children would be taken away.

Cassie Moody said that she continued living with Preston on and off from the time of the stabbing incident up until a few weeks ago.

The defense asked Cassie Moody if she spent three nights with Preston this week and she said yes. The defense added the words, "including last night," and she said yes.

Cassie Moody agreed with Al Charanza that over the past 10 years that they have been in a relationship there have been good times.

During her time on the stand, Cassie Moody was very emotional. The state even asked the judge for a short recess so she could gain her composure and continue testifying.

At one point during while being questioned by Charanza Cassie Moody said, "Yes, I still love him, I can't help that."

The state rested their case after two witnesses.

Preston Moody's 14-year-old daughter from another marriage was the first witnesses to be called by the defense.

His daughter said she wants her dad to still be in her life.

"He is a great father. I wouldn't give anything for him," the girl said. "He's loved us and cared for us, and I don't want nothing to happen to him."

Preston's daughter also talked about seeing Cassie Moody take medication to excess.

Richard McCarty, who has been friends with Preston Moody for 30 years, also took the stand. He described Preston Moody as someone as a hard worker and someone who takes care of his family.

"Preston Moody is a friend. He is my friend, and Cassie - she is a good mamma," McCarty said. "They just had a difference of opinion with one another. She gets in a bind and runs back to Preston. Everybody has their problems. That's about all that I can say."

Darrell Lawson, Preston Moody's friend, described Cassie and Preston like ice cream and ketchup.

Mary McCarty, a friend of Preston Moody's for about eight years said, "He's a good father. Those babies need him just as much as they need their mamma."

Amy Honey, a family friend of Preston and Cassie Moody's, testified about the times that she observed Cassie take medication in excess but said she never saw Preston hit Cassie.

Amber Sullender took the stand and said she knows Preston from church. She said he is amazing around his children and says that Kacey is an alright mother. She said Preston is very helpful and honest.

Justin Moody, Preston's son from a previous marriage, said during his testimony that "I don't think that there's anybody else that could have held my hand and made me the man I am."

"If it wasn't for him I don't know where I'd be," Justin Moody said. "I love and cherish him. He's been good to us. He taught me how to be good to them [his family]."

Justin Moody said he could probably come up with a 100 different people that he's helped out in Zavalla.

Fighting back tears, Justin Moody said his daughter loves going fishing with his father.

"He's good with his kids," Justin Moody said. "I know he's being tried for something right now that's not good, but he's a real good man. He's a good dad. He's not perfect. Nobody is. I think it would be a mistake to put him somewhere where he couldn't continue to help his kids."

The final witness for the defense during the sentencing was Preston Moody.

He described the incident where he was stabbed on the way to the deer camp. Preston Moody told the jury that she hit him in the face with the butt of the gun, and then the car went in the ditch. Then she stabbed him. He said he and Cassie concocted a story about what happened so she wouldn't go to jail.

Preston Moody explained that Cassie Moody and his kids moved back in with him in October 2013.

Preston Moody said that 80 percent of the problem with him and his wife has been over medicine. He said he has to keep his medicine with him at all times, or she will steal it.

Charanza asked Preston Moody what he plans to do if he doesn't get sent to a penitentiary and he said, "to go on being a good daddy and working."

After a recess for lunch the state called Cassie Moody back to the stand where she was questioned about the bullet hole in the floor.

Preston and Cassie Moody's younger son was called to the stand by the state. He explained that the night the incident happened he saw his dad "slapping my mom,' and that his dad "pointed the rifle at her head."

Malcom Newton, Preston's brother, was called to the stand by the defense to discuss different times when the Moody's came to his house for family gatherings. ​

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