TRINITY, TX (KTRE) - After she allegedly lied on the witness stand during a habeas hearing for a murderer that she helped convict as a juror 10 or 12 years ago, a 33-year-old woman was arrested on a felony aggravated perjury charge Tuesday morning.
Crystal Shanique Mack was booked in to the Trinity County Jail on a third-degree felony aggravated perjury charge Tuesday.
"It was a little difficult to piece it together since the trial happened 10 or 12 years ago, but we did it," said Trinity County District Attorney Bennie Schiro.
Chief Deputy Tommy Park with the Trinity County Sheriff's Office said Mack served on the jury that convicted Ismail Shabaz of murder and sentenced him to 50 years in prison 10 or 12 years ago. At the time, she said she knew of Shabaz because Trinity is a small town.
Schiro said Mack filed a habeas affidavit in an effort to get a higher court to consider releasing Shabaz from prison. In the affidavit, she claimed that the original jury trial was unfair because she knew Shabaz.
Park said the Trinity County District Attorney's Office investigated the matter further and found that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice had recorded phone conversations between Shabaz and Mack in which it sounded like the TDCJ inmate was coaching Mack on how to write the habeas affidavit. He added that Mack also contacted Shabaz' two sisters after his conviction.
A hearing was held on the habeas affidavit Tuesday morning, and Park said that he transported Shabaz from a TDCJ prison to the courthouse. He also said he was present for the hearing, which is why he was asked to obtain the arrest affidavit.
Park said after Mack had had been sworn and asked to the witness stand, she was asked if she had ever contacted Shabaz phone, and she said that she hadn't. The fact that she lied under oath as a witness is the reason the charge was upgraded to a felony aggravated perjury charge, Park said.
The higher court denied the habeas request, Schiro said.
Schiro said the charge carries a punishment range of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.