Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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December 2, 2012

Grand jury declines to indict man in roadway killing case

Driver accused of striking, killing bicyclist facing 2 felony counts


PALO PINTO – A Palo Pinto County grand jury declined to indict the man arrested for the September stabbing death of Damon Desdunes, 27, during an altercation on U.S. Highway 180 East.

José Luis Ramos, 40, faced murder charges and was being held in Palo Pinto County Jail under $500,000 bond prior to the grand jury’s decision Thursday.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing Ramos in a vehicle pursuit of Desdunes on the afternoon of Sept. 7, explaining both men pulled over in the 4300 block of U.S. 180 East.

Desdunes reportedly emerged wielding a bat, which witnesses say he dropped upon noticing Ramos had a knife. Reports indicate Ramos stabbed Desdunes once in the arm and once in the heart. He died a short time later at Palo Pinto General Hospital.

Ramos remained at the scene while law enforcement investigated and was taken into custody without incident.

District Attorney Mike Burns told the Index he does not know the reasons behind the grand jury’s no bill, explaining his office presented all the evidence available.

“The grand jury heard all of the evidence from the investigating officers,” he said. “They came to the conclusion [that] charges were not warranted at this time.”

Grand jury members are not obliged to explain their decisions, Burns said. “I know that there was an issue of self-defense in the case,” he added.

Regardless of the reason, the jury “took close to two hours to work on that case,” he said.

Indictment in cyclist’s death case

The motorist allegedly responsible for the July 25 death of bicyclist David Valtier was indicted Thursday on two felony charges.

Thomas Ray Johnson, 27, of Mineral Wells, was arrested several hours after police say he hit Valtier with his 2011 Chevrolet pickup in the 4300 block of U.S. Highway 180 East..

Valtier, on his way home from a second-shift job at Antelope Oil and Tool Manufacturing, died at the scene. When authorities arrived, Johnson was not at the scene.

Officers reportedly used footage from nearby surveillance cameras to establish a general description of the vehicle, which they later tracked to an area body shop.

Blood and paint transfer from the vehicle linked Johnson to the incident, police said, and he was arrested for his alleged involvement in the crash and subsequent effort to destroy incriminating evidence.

Initially jailed on two third-degree felony charges, each carrying a possible prison sentence of 10 years and up to a $10,000 fine, he was released on $50,000 bond July 28.

The grand jury found sufficient evidence to indict Johnson on charges of causing an accident involving serious bodily injury or death and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.

Other indictments

The grand jury returned 27 indictments against 21 names individuals. Also indicted were:

• William Darrell Brown – online solicitation of a minor.

• Angelica Joyce Ahern – possession of a controlled substance less than one gram.

• Javier Estrada Obregon – driving while intoxicated/third or more offense.

• Donna Denise Pettit – possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance between 4 and 200 grams.

• Donna Denise Pettit – possession of a controlled substance between 28 and 200 grams.

• Damon Larone Menefield – possession of a controlled substance between 4 and 200 grams.

• Damon Larone Menefield – possession of a controlled substance between 1 and 4 grams.

• Damon Larone Menefield – possession of a controlled substance in a correctional facility.

• Damon Larone Menefield – unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

• Bradley Roger Nyborg – possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance between 4 and 200 grams.

• Bradley Roger Nyborg – possession of a controlled substance between 28 and 200 grams.

• Cody Aaron Wheeler – driving while intoxicated/third or more offense.

• Cody Thomas Hailey – burglary of a habitation.

• Thomas Patrick Shea – theft of property between $1,500 and $20,000.

• Jennifer Carrizales – credit card abuse.

• Maria Del-Refujio Estupinan – credit card abuse.

• Xavier Orlando Gonzalez – debit card abuse.

• Shawn Steven Goodrum – credit card abuse.

• Kelsey Amanda Newsome – burglary of a habitation.

• Joshua Matthew Durand – unauthorized use of a vehicle.

• Michael Douglas Lewin – indecency with a child.

• Lamarcus Lashay Nolley – possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance between 1 and 4 grams.

• Phillip Martin Mata – possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram.

• Darren Glen Dow – theft of property between $1,500 and $20,000.

• Amy Ann Lee – possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram.

• Amy Ann Lee – endangering a child.

• Lonnie Bryon Willingham – driving while intoxicated/third or more offense.

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