By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – A vehicle breakdown between Pennington and Kennard led to the arrest of two men on felony drug charges on April 1.

Daniel Groot, 28 from Elysian Fields, along with 40-year-old Richard Hayslett, from Del Rio, were arrested on Easter Sunday and were both charged with the manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, penalty group one, more than or equal to four grams but less than 200 grams.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Houston County Deputy William Gardner was dispatched to a public service call on Sunday, April 1 “… regarding a white van broke down on FM 2781 near Pennington, Texas. The complainant also stated the van was creating a traffic hazard and that two males were throwing trash onto the side of the road and on other people’s property. The complainant also stated that both male subjects were acting suspiciously by walking in and out of the woods.”

When Gardner arrived on the scene he observed several tree limbs piled behind the van which was blocking the west bound lane of traffic between Pennington and Kennard. The deputy also observed several items from the van had been discarded in a ditch beside the van, the affidavit reported.

Gardner made contact with both Groot and Hayslett who indicated they had placed the limbs behind the van as a traffic warning. The deputy asked why the two men didn’t push the van off the side of the road, Hayslett replied it was too heavy, according to the affidavit.

Both men infor

Hayslett

med the deputy, Hayslett’s wife had been driving the van when it broke down and they had arrived on the scene approximately 45 minutes prior to attempt to repair the vehicle. Hayslett added his wife – Raw Starr – had taken his truck to town in an effort to get parts to fix the van.

“While speaking with the subjects, Deputy Gardner observed that both subjects were nervous, fidgety and appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance. During the investigation, both subjects admitted to Deputy Gardner and Trinity County DA Investigator Kent Blanchard (also on the scene) that they had previously used methamphetamines,” the affidavit reported.

Gardner asked Hayslett for consent to search the van but Hayslett declined “… because he said the van belonged to his wife who was not present.”

Because of the lack of consent, a K-9 unit was requested from Trinity County to conduct an open air search around the van, the affidavit stated.

Once the K-9 unit arrived, the legal document indicated the dog alerted on several of the items laying on the ground beside the vehicle.

Based on the K-9 search outside the van, Gardner searched the inside of the van where he discovered a plastic bottle containing a white, powdery residue in the driver’s seat area.

“Deputy Gardner then discovered a Crown Royal bag behind the driver’s seat on the kitchen table area RV/van, which contained approximately 30 grams of a crystal like substance in two plastic bags, a glass pipe and an empty plastic baggie,” the affidavit indicated.

A field test was conducted on the crystal like substance and resulted in a positive test for methamphetamine.

Groot and Hayslett were arrested at the scene and charged with the manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, penalty group one. The charge is considered a first degree felony because of the weight of the illegal narcotics.

According to Section 12.32 of the Texas Penal Code, “An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the first degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than five years. In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the first degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.”

Both men are still held at the Houston County Jail on individual bonds of $30,000.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.