Grapeland Man Arrested for Robbery

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

KENNARD – Over the last few years, once the Thanksgiving spread has been devoured and the leftovers put away, many people decide to start their Christmas shopping. Some folks shop online while some brave the pre-Black Friday crowds hoping to avoid being trampled in order to secure that one “spectacular” deal.

Recently, a Grapeland man decided to create his own personal “spectacular” deal but found out his idea of a bargain came with a pretty steep price.

Stephen Eric Delance, 32, was arrested and charged with robbery after he stole several items from the Family Dollar Store in Kennard and then hit the manager of the store with his truck as he was fleeing the scene.

The Texas Penal Code defines robbery as while “… in the course of committing theft and with intent to obtain or maintain control of the property, he or she, intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another.”

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Houston County Sheriff’s Office Deputy William Gardner was dispatched to the Family Dollar Store located at 303 US Highway 7 E. in Kennard in reference to a recent incident between a customer and store manager.

The manager informed the deputy “… she observed the defendant (Delance) putting clothes into his white Ford pickup. The manager asked the defendant if he wanted a sack for his clothes and the defendant replied ‘No, they are Christmas presents.’ The defendant then re-entered the store with the shopping cart and started placing toys inside the cart,” the report stated.

Acting on her suspicion, the store manager questioned the clerks about the defendant and discovered he had not purchased any of the clothes he was observed placing in his truck.

“The manager and the defendant then walked to the front of the store where the defendant left the shopping cart full of toys. The manager and the defendant walked outside where the store manager waited by the entrance while the defendant went to his truck (presumably to either pay for or return the merchandise.) The defendant entered his truck and started to drive off,” the affidavit stated.

The probable cause document indicated the manager attempted to block Delance’s exit by stepping in front of the truck but Delance “… swerved his vehicle towards her, striking her with the front bumper, causing minor injury, while yelling at her ‘I will kill you.’”

Gardner also spoke with two witnesses of the events. Both confirmed the store manager’s description of what had taken place. Video surveillance further confirmed the manager’s statement and identified the culprit as Delance.

Two days later, Delance was taken into custody and booked into the Houston County Jail on one count of robbery, a second degree felony.

According to Section 12.33 of the Texas Penal Code, “An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for any term of not more than 20 years or less than two years. In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.”

Delance is being held at Houston County Jail on a $20,000 bond.

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