Suspect Arrested In Game Warden Dragging Case

James William Woods Jr., photo provided by Newton County Sheriff Dept.
James William Woods Jr., photo provided by Newton County Sheriff Dept.

News Release:

AUSTIN, Texas - At about 7 a.m. this morning, enforcement authorities arrested James William Woods, Jr., 23, of Newton County, and charged him with aggravated assault on a public servant, a first-degree felony, for allegedly dragging a game warden along the roadside Dec. 4 following a traffic stop in Southeast Texas.

Woods was arrested without incident at a private residence in Newton by a coalition of authorities that included Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens, Newton County sheriff's deputies, City of Newton police, and U.S. Marshalls.

Authorities also arrested two other people at the residence. The man who owned the house was charged with harboring a fugitive, a third-degree felony. The homeowner's brother is a juvenile who has been turned over to Newton County juvenile authorities.

Woods was arraigned this morning and also charged with evading arrest, a felony. He was placed today in a private prison, the Newton County Correctional Center, which is owned by Newton County but operated privately under contract with the sheriff's office. The judge set a $1 million bond for the dragging offense, but a separate parole violation warrant for Woods means he cannot get out of jail on bond.

Game wardens believe public awareness was a helpful factor in the apprehension, including various rewards and wanted posters urging anyone with information about the incident to contact the Operation Game Thief reward hotline at (800) 792-GAME (4263).

"Probably because there was so much awareness, and his photo was on the news and on wanted posters around the region, that probably kept the suspect from leaving the area and gave us the opportunity to find him," said Capt. Tom Jenkins, TPWD game warden district supervisor out of San Augustine. "We at Texas Parks and Wildlife are extremely grateful to the public and media for helping us with information about this case, and to Sheriff Walker, Police Chief Adams, the U.S. Marshalls and everyone else who helped us bring this suspect to justice."

Various organizations were offering rewards totaling $3,000 in the case, including a $1, 000 cash reward from Operation Game Thief, $1,000 from Beaumont CrimeStoppers, $500 from the Newton County Sheriffs Office, and $500 from the U.S. Marshalls Service for information leading to the suspect's arrest and conviction.

At approximately 9:20 p.m. Dec. 4, Game Warden Ellis Powell, 37, was seriously injured when he became trapped between the doors of a fleeing extended cab pickup and dragged along the roadside. Powell and a City of Newton police officer on patrol together pulled Woods over in a routine traffic stop. Woods later fled the scene on foot, and was at large until this morning. Warden Powell has recovered and returned to duty.