LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The trial for a duo accused of leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase through three counties started Monday.
Police said on August 2, 2015, Richard Kay and Dennis Arceneaux led police on an hour long chase that involved eight different agencies from Angelina, Nacogdoches and Cherokee Counties.
In the reading of the charge Kay pleaded guilty to evading arrest or detention with a vehicle and unauthorized use of a vehicle, and he pleaded not guilty to an aggravated assault of a public servant charge. Arceneaux pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault of a public servant.
In the opening arguments, prosecuting attorney Deborah Moore argued that Kay and Arceneaux are not safe for society. Moore said the defendant intentionally slowed down to throw chainsaws at Angelina County Sheriff Deputy Robert Willmon. Moore said they did it twice.
"Richard Kay had a total disregard for the law," Moore said. "He threatened deputy Willmon and law enforcement from other counties as well. Arceneaux also had disregard for the law. He threatened Deputy Willmon, other officers and the safety of the public."
Arceneaux's defense attorney John Peralta said the state's evidence is riddled with holes.
"Some of the holes are big enough to drive a Mack Truck through," Peralta said. "They have to prove he made a threat towards Willmon. They have to prove he dropped the chainsaws intending to harm Willmon or knowing he would be harmed."
Peralta mentioned a chainsaw could or could not be a deadly weapon.
"If you see a chainsaw used like it was in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre then yes it is a deadly weapon," Peralta said. "If you look other ways then maybe it is not. "
Charanza said it is true that it is a bad case and that Key did run from police, but he did not agree with the charge of aggravated assault of a public servant.
"Don't worry if about the chase and evading, he pleaded guilty to that. You will decide punishment later," Charanza said.
Charanza said it comes down to the intent.
"Where they intending to assault the officer," Charanza questioned. "No one was injured. This is a case that has been over charged. We know it is a bad case because that is what Kay pleaded guilty to. Where we disagree is did he knowingly intentionally try to harm Willmon."
Jason Vance with the Lufkin Police Department was the first witness.
Vance told Moore that they noticed the vehicle the two defendants were in was driving on the loop at 67 mph.
Vance said the truck pulled over when he and Officer Hawkins turned on their lights.
"When we got to the right-front quarter panels, they truck took off," Vance said,
Vance said they did follow for a little bit before falling off of the pursuit. The state then showed dashcam video of the chase to the jury. You can hear Vance in the video tell dispatch that speeds reached at least 100 mph.
When he took the stand later in the trial, Sgt. Robert Willmon with the Angelina County Sheriff's Office agreed with Peralta that Arceneaux was not involved with the chase after the hay field since he was let out.
Willmon said it was possible for the driver to be the only person that threw out the chainsaws. He continued by saying when the second chainsaw went out of the vehicle that the car swerved, and he agreed with Peralta that it could have been because the driver lost control after he threw it.
Willmon said he thought the chainsaw was thrown out to disable his vehicle.
"They had 14 miles to get rid of those chainsaws if they wanted to and they did it right when I was behind them," Willmon said. "The only reason the saw missed is because I had to dodge the chainsaw."
Willmon said he never noticed the chainsaws in the vehicle until they were thrown out.
Willmon told Charanza the chainsaws were given back to Hudson Police since they were believed to have been stolen from that area. Willmon said Lufkin Police were the ones to take inventory of the truck.
Willmon also said he never sat down and interviewed Kay.
Willmon then told Moore it would have been hard for the driver to throw the saw out of the passenger side because of the amount of movement he would have to make.
Charanza then showed Willmon a copy of his report and pointed out that the window being broken is never in the report. Willmon said he has a photograph of the broken window.
Alto Police Chief Jeremy Jackson then took the stand.
Jackson said he got a call about a gentlemen involved in the pursuit that had gotten out when they went into his pasture. Jackson said he went to the property and arrested Arceneaux.
Jackson told Peralta that Arceneaux did not flee on foot or resist arrest.
Jackson told Charanza that he was the first person to show up at the home and other officers arrived later.
Jackson said Arceneaux was detained and taken to the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, where he was later released.
Lufkin investigator Jerrod Hennigan took the stand to talk about the vehicle. Hennigan said the plates on the truck were stolen off of a truck in the Hudson area.
Hennigan also said it appeared the truck that the two were in was stolen out of the Houston area from a man that was borrowing it from his friend.
Hennigan said he went to the home belonging to a Mr. Freeman and several items including chainsaws, a generator, and a full set of tires and rims were stolen from. Hennigan said the generator and the tires and rims were in the back of the truck when police got it. The chainsaws were later recovered from the road.
Hennigan said he interviewed Kay at the jail. Hennigan said he could not remember any information about the passenger and if Kay said he told Arceneaux to get out.