LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County jury found a former Lufkin High School student who put a cord close to a teacher's neck back in October of 2016 guilty of threatening a public servant Thursday afternoon.
The jury found Tevin Dewayne Sanders not guilty of aggravated assault.
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.
On Thursday, an LISD teacher who sponsored the psychology club said to the jury Sanders never mentioned a "fight or flight" term. She said that Tevin mentioned wanting to do a social experiment involving people which she describes as a childlike experiment and declined his suggestion.
The teacher said she did receive a text from Sanders on October 28, 2016, the day of the alleged incident, saying he, Sanders, did an experiment that went wrong.
Defense attorney Al Charanza made his opening remarks after the state rested.
Charanza told the jury how they will hear more evidence on how Sanders was serious about his studies. Charanza said the jury will hear testimony from Sander's mother and father explaining how Sanders enjoyed learning and Sanders had been absent during the first four days of the week because his uncle was dying from a brain aneurysm which caused Sanders to fall into a state of depression since his uncle was in the ICU.
Sanders's father took the stand. He testified that Sanders had started living with him at the beginning of October. He told the jury Sanders was an excellent student. He said the week of the alleged incident, Sanders was distraught and depressed. The father said he had suggested Sanders not go to school and stay home and that he didn't know Sanders went to school that Friday.
Sanders's mother, Monnette Thompson, testified saying she never experienced problems with "Tevin not going to school." She said that Sanders was feeling hurt and he didn't understand why it (Sanders' uncle being in the ICU) was happening to him. Thompson became very emotional at that point.
Tevin Sanders testified next. He told the jury how he was a hard-working student looking forward to graduating. He explained to the jury his background on playing football that caused an injury in the tenth grade. He said during the time period he accumulated absences.
Sanders told the jury he was having a difficult time with coping with his uncle's health that week in October 2016. He said because of his prior absences from the injury, and the absences from that week, he "didn't want to get far behind. He wanted to go to school to get caught up."
He said he talked to an assistant principal that Friday about his absences, who then referred Sanders to talk to a counselor. During his meeting with the counselor, Sanders said he was feeling "a little frustrated. Graduating is a big thing for me and I wanted to graduate."
He told the jury that he made a mistake during lunch by eating cheese pizza, which causes stomach problems because he's lactose intolerant. He said he was in the bathroom for almost a whole period around the same time school ended and realized he missed the bus.
He told the jury, he was preparing to walk to the front of the school for his father to pick him up when he decided to go to the second floor and walked into the sewing room lab.
"I went to the second floor to think because I was having negative thoughts," Sanders said. "At first I went to the bathroom. Then I went into an adjacent room from Ms. Pruitt's room."
"I went in there and I was preparing to do harm to myself. I picked that room because it was an isolated room. I was going to use my phone cord to harm myself. I knocked over a few things (because) I was having difficulty standing on the desk," Sanders said.
He said he told the officer that he was in the room conducting a psychology experiment in hopes of getting in school suspension as a consequence because he did not want to reveal to his parents his thoughts of harming himself.
The state offered a rebuttal witness and recalled an academic counselor to the stand. She told the jury of prior incidents where Sanders has shown behavior with the intent to harm himself. She told the jury her involvement in getting help for Sanders's mental health.