Angelina Co. jury sentences woman who stole patrol unit, led officers on chase to 45 years
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - After deliberating for much of the day Wednesday, an Angelina County jury sentenced a Pollok woman who stole a Lufkin PD patrol unit and led police officers on a high-speed chase to 45 years in prison.
The jury was polled, and they all agreed on the sentence.
Toscha Sponsler was sentenced to 8 years for Count 1, 10 years for Count 2, 25 years for Count 3, and 45 years each for Counts 4 and 5. The sentences are concurrent, which means Sponsler will be serving them at the same time.
Back in September of 2017, Sponsler, who was a shoplifting suspect at the time, slipped out of her handcuffs, stole a Lufkin PD patrol unit, and led law enforcement on a high-speed chase that lasted 23 minutes.
Sponsler, 33, was found guilty of aggravated assault against a public servant, evading arrest with a vehicle with a previous conviction, escape causing serious bodily injury or threat of deadly weapon, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and evading arrest with a previous conviction Tuesday afternoon.
Sponsler's jury trial is ongoing on in Judge Bob Inselmann's 217th Judicial District Court.
During the sentencing phase of the trial, the state presented further evidence through witness testimony. One of them, a Lufkin police officer, said Sponsler has a bad reputation in the community.
The defense called three witnesses to the stand during the sentencing portion of the trial. They included a psychologist and two people who knew Sponsler from jobs they worked at together.
The psychologist told the jury that Sponsler has a history of sexual abuse and mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder.
A witness who often let Sponsler live at her home told the jury to consider that she's not a bad person and drugs caused her to commit the crimes. Drugs ruined her life, and Sponsler needs help, not just jail, the witness said.
During closing arguments, the state told the jury to consider Sponsler's prior convictions, the safety of the community, and the risk that was imposed on the lives of law enforcement during the lengthy chase.
Rudy Velasquez, Sponsler's defense attorney, touched on three main points when he urged the jury to consider a lighter sentence during his closing arguments. He reminded the jurors of his client's history of mental illness and sexual abuse. He also pointed out that Sponsler was homeless at the time of the crimes.
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