CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - A Houston County judge sentenced the second of the four men who robbed the Lovelady State Bank to 45 years in a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison Tuesday.
After a Houston County jury convicted Demetrius Wheeler, of Houston, of first-degree felony aggravated robbery back in June, he chose to have a judge set his punishment. District Judge Mark Calhoon set Wheeler's sentence after he heard all the evidence presented in court and reviewed a pre-sentencing investigation, according to a press release from the Houston County District Attorney's Office.
"The second of the Lovelady State Bank robbers has now been sentenced in the district court of Houston County," the press release stated. "At trial in June of this year, the co-defendant Allus Hubbard's testimony, along with the DNA evidence, convinced the jury that Demetrius Wheeler was guilty as a party to the bank robbery because he aided in the robbery by driving the get-away vehicle."
According to the press release, the state presented evidence that Wheeler was convicted of manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance in Trinity County in 2009.
"In that case, Mr. Wheeler was sentenced to shock probation, so he went into the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division for six months then was released to probation," the press release stated. "In 2012, he violated that probation and was sentenced to five years prison. He was out on parole for that sentence when the bank robbery occurred."
In addition, the state submitted evidence that before Wheeler was arrested for the bank robbery, he was arrested on a manufacture and deliver of a controlled substance charge out of Harris County, the press release stated. That crime occurred after the bank robbery, the press release stated.
Wheeler was convicted for the manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance charge, and he was given state-jail time. He also has a variety of misdemeanor offenses on his record, the press release stated.
"The judge noted that Mr. Wheeler did not enter the bank with a gun as the other defendants had done but he had a greater criminal history than the others involved and tried in this court for the offense," the press release stated.
The other man who has been tried in the case is Alonzo Irving. A Houston County jury sentenced him to 45 years in prison for aggravated robbery on May 5.
Ryan Scott, the fourth suspect in the robbery is being held in Harris County on an unrelated crime, Kaspar said.
Houston County District Attorney Donna Gordon Kaspar said Allus Hubbard's case is still pending. She added that he is expected to take a plea bargain at his sentencing.
"Ryan Scott is in custody in Harris County for capital murder," Kaspar said, "We are working with the DA's office there to present the bank robbery evidence in their trial. They are seeking the death penalty for Mr. Scott."
Wheeler was the driver of a red Dodge Dart that was abandoned in Trinity after a chase that started at Tantaboque Bottom shortly after the Lovelady State Bank was robbed, a previous press release stated.
"Allus Hubbard, Alonso Irving and Ryan Scott were the three armed and masked individuals who entered Lovelady State Bank at approximately 10:30 a.m. on December 17, 2015," the previous press release stated. "They entered the bank with guns drawn."
Hubbard went to the left side of the bank lobby, and he subdued all of the employees he encountered, the press release stated. Irving did the same on the right side of the bank's lobby.
"Mr. Scott repeatedly struck the teller with his pistol and demanded the money while forcing the teller towards the back of the bank," the press release stated. "When Mr. Scott saw the bank's bookkeeper on the phone, he released the teller and grabbed the bookkeeper. He struck her in the head with his pistol and forced her back to the teller window to get the money that was in the drawer there."
At that point, the three men quickly left the bank, got into a dark four-door sedan, and headed south toward Trinity, the press release stated. When they got to Tantaboque Bottom, Hubbard and Scott switched vehicles, getting into the Dodge Dart drive by Wheeler.
A bank employee who had been following the dark sedan saw the red Dodge pull out onto State Highway 19 and was suspicious, the press release stated. Because he believed the robbers had switched cars, he started following the Dodge Dart. The whole time, the bank employee was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.
"Trinity is as far as they got before Sheriff's Deputy Wayne Huffman spotted the red Dodge," the press release stated. "After a short car chase, all three robbers ran from the red car but only two got away. Allus Hubbard was apprehended after a short foot chase."