Speeding Leads to Meth Bust

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – While former Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar once penned a song titled “I Can’t Drive 55,” a Grapeland man is probably wishing he would have been driving no faster than 55 after he was caught speeding and is now faced with first, second and third degree felony charges.

Jerry Daniel Watkins, 38, was charged with the manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance, the possession of a controlled substance and bringing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility after he was stopped for speeding.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Houston County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Detric Murray was on patrol in an area north of Grapeland – shortly after 9 p.m. when he observed a white pickup traveling southbound at a high rate of speed.

The deputy turned around, activated his emergency lights and initiated a traffic stop. The vehicle eventually pulled over in the Brookshire Brothers parking lot.

“Deputies made contact with the defendant (Watkins) and advised him of the reason for the contact. The defendant appeared to be nervous and had been seen coming from a known drug house,” the affidavit reported.

Watkins was questioned if he had any drugs, guns or stolen property in the truck and said he did not. As the conversation continued, law enforcement officials asked for – and were granted – permission to search the vehicle.

During the search, deputies “… located a small, clear baggie containing a crystal-like substance – believed to be meth – in the ash tray, a metal pipe with a burnt substance and a Brillo pad inside of the ash tray.”

After he was read his Miranda rights, Watkins was transported to the Houston County Jail to be booked into custody. On the way to Crockett, it was explained to him if he had any other illegal contraband on his person, he needed to inform someone or additional charges would be filed.

Once again, Watkins denied he had anything on him. When he arrived at the jail, a full person search was conducted and according to the affidavit, a small black camera pouch was discovered.

“Deputies asked the defendant if he had a camera inside of the pouch and the defendant shook his head no and put his head down,” the reports stated.

The pouch was unzipped and the contents found in the pouch included: a large baggie of meth, weighed at 12.2 grams; several pills; numerous small, clear empty baggies and a set of black scales, the affidavit stated.

In addition to the possession charge (a second degree felony) Watkins originally faced after the traffic stop, he was further charged with the manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance (first degree felony) and bringing a prohibited substance into a correctional facility (third degree felony).

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.”

A second degree felony carries a sentence of between two and 20 years, while a third degree felony carries a sentence of between two and 10 years. Both felony charges also carry the possibility of a fine of up to $10,000.

Watkins is being held at the Houston County Jail on bonds totaling $60,000.

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