Trial begins for Lufkin High School student accused of putting cord near teacher's neck

Tevin Sanders (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Tevin Sanders (Source: Angelina County Jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Officers with the Lufkin ISD Police Department arrested high school student Tevin Dewayne Sanders in October 2016 for allegedly coming up behind a teacher who was working late and putting a cord in front of her neck.

His trial started at 9 a.m., Wednesday morning in Judge Bob Inselmann's 217th Judicial District Court.

The former 19-year-old high school student is facing first-degree a felony charge of aggravated assault on a public servant.

During his opening remarks, Todd Dillon, a prosecutor for the Angelina County District Attorney's Office, explained to the jury that they will hear testimony from the teacher involved in the case. Dillon said testimony from numerous witnesses will show that Sanders exhibited a pattern of anger and following teachers.

Al Charanza, Sanders' defense attorney, reserved his opening remarks until the state finished presenting all of the evidence.

A Lufkin High School teacher took the stand first. The teacher told the jury the events that followed on the day of the incident back in October 2016. The victim said the incident happened after school hours in the classroom.

The teacher was preparing lesson plans for the week ahead when the lights went off in the classroom. The teacher said noises were heard and getting louder. A few minutes later the teacher walked into the classroom next door, where the light switch was, to turn on the lights. The teacher said Sanders was standing in a dark closet unbeknownst to anyone.

The teacher said Sanders followed her back to the original classroom and was knocking on the door. After several minutes the door opened, but no one entered, the teacher said. Next, Sanders walked in looking for glow-in-the-dark paint next to the filing cabinets, however, no paint was found, the teacher said.

The teacher was visibly emotional. She wiped away tears when Dillon asked what emotions the teacher experienced during the interaction. The teacher described feeling scared, frightened, and afraid. The teacher said Sanders was asked to leave the classroom, but would not cooperate with the request.

The teacher said at one point Sanders wanted to take a picture of paint he was referring to. Then Sanders said his phone was being slow. The teacher said it was at that point when Sanders pulled up a cord near the neck and whispered something in her ear.

The teacher said, "What do you think you're doing?" as she ripped the cord away.

The teacher asked Sanders to leave at that point. She added Sanders said "sorry" as he left the classroom.

An officer with Lufkin ISD took the stand next. Officer Dan Lair questioned Sanders after the incident. He said Sanders was animated that day, and from his experience, Sanders is usually shy.

In the video of the interview that was shown in court, Lair asked Sanders what he was doing in the dark room. Lair said, initially, Sanders said it was a Halloween "thing," meaning he was pulling a prank. Later Lair told Sanders that the school wasn't a haunted house and that he had been asked to stop the behavior three weeks before the alleged incident.

Sanders then told Lair that he was conducting a fight or flight experiment and said that he never learned the outcome of the experiment.

Surveillance video shows Sanders carrying a white cord similar to a cell phone charger.

Several of other witnesses testified that Sanders exhibited angry behavior and followed other teachers.

An affidavit states in September of that same year a Lufkin ISD police officer warned Sanders about bothering the alleged victim.

The affidavit also states that Sanders sent an e-mail to the teacher allegedly apologizing for a "misguided experimentation."

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