Hunters Suspected in County's Costliest Criminal Mischief Case - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

05/21/07 - Trinity County

Hunters Suspected in County's Costliest Criminal Mischief Case

by Ramonica R. Jones

Trinity County authorities believe two Houston-area hunters caused very expensive damage at a deer lease off Old Groveton Road. You can still see the huge tire tracks and ruts in the ground made by two skidders.

Investigators think the young men found two four-wheel tractors unattended back on April 29th and took them for a joyride, driving them all over the pasture and destroying land before crashing the heavy equipment into a ditch.

Sheriff Steven Jones said, "They got over here, found the skidders, somehow got them cranked, drove around [and] did donuts throughout all this property, tore down a few trees, pushed down some signs and then ended up turning the skidders over in the creek."

The two suspects are 17- and 20-years-old. They survived the crash and later confessed to the costly criminal mischief. Because fixing the damage will be so costly, the suspects could face first degree felony charges.

The timber-hauling machines cost several hundred thousand dollars a piece and there is still oil from both skidders floating in the creek. If convicted, the men will be responsible for the cost of cleanup and repair.

"There was a lot of environmental damage done. The environmental companies had to come out and help. We did receive a lot of help from the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the Lufkin Police Department's crime lab, Ranger Pete Maskunas, and our Trinity County district attorney's office.>>

The suspects have not been charged, but they face up to 99 years in prison.

The two men are from Baytown. Authorities believe they may have been drinking before they took the skidders for a ride.

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