The 2017 Year-in-Review

Crime and Punishment

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

 HOUSTON and ANDERSON COUNTIES – The year of 2017 saw its fair share of crime and criminal activity but – for the most part of the past year – it was the court system which garnered the attention.

Several high-profile cases in both Houston and Anderson Counties reached their conclusion as verdicts were handed down in the court proceedings.


In Houston County, the trials of Robert David Mobley and James Eddie Henderson got underway in late summer. Mobley and Henderson had been charged with aggravated kidnapping directly connected to the 2015 death of Vanessa Melson.

Mobley was the first to stand trial and following a week of the legal proceedings, he was found guilty in under 30 minutes. After a deal was reached between the prosecution and defense, Mobley’s sentencing date was set for late September.

The Henderson trial lasted slightly longer (by a day) but resulted in the same guilty verdict. Following the verdict, the jury was tasked with determining the length of sentence for the convicted felon.  Less than an hour later, Henderson learned his fate as he was sentenced to 99 years in prison.


Three days later, on Sept. 28, Judge Pam Foster Fletcher also sentenced Mobley to a term of 99 years in prison.

While Mobley’s sentencing was still fresh in the courtroom, Judge Pam Foster Fletcher called for the next case.

Rumors of a possible plea bargain began to swirl around the case of the State of Texas vs. Austin Cline Catoe on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 27 and on Thursday, those rumors were proven true.

A status hearing on Catoe had originally been scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 28. A deal had been struck, however, which allowed Catoe to enter guilty pleas on two counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault.

Catoe, from Latexo, was initially charged with two counts of intoxicated manslaughter, three counts of intoxicated aggravated assault and driving while intoxicated. The charges stemmed from a one-vehicle wreck in the early morning hours of June 26, 2016 which resulted in the deaths of two of the four vehicle occupants. At th


e time of the wreck, Catoe was identified as the driver.

Catoe was sentenced to 10 years for each manslaughter charge along with a $2,500 fine on both counts. He was also sentenced to five years of probation on the assault charge, which would begin on his first day of release from TDCJ. The two 10-year sentences will run concurrently. Because of enhancements on the charges, Catoe will not be eligible for parole until after five years.

Late October 2017 saw the trial of William Hudson begin. Hudson stood accused of murdering six people in November of 2015, outside of Tennessee Colony in Anderson County.

Because of the notoriety of the case – when it came to trial – a change of venue was granted. The trial was moved to the 361st District Court in Brazos County with Judge Mark Calhoon presiding.

The six murders were combined into three counts of capital murder by Anderson County District Attorney Allyson Mitchell who was seeking the death penalty in this case.


The names and ages of the victims are as follows: Kade Johnson, 6; Carl Johnson, 76; Hannah Johnson, 40; Austin Kamp, 21; Thomas Kamp, 46; and Nathan Kamp, 23.

Once testimony concluded in the trial, Brazos County jurors took only 17 minutes to convict Hudson on three counts of capital murder. It took the same jurors less than an hour to sentence Hudson to death.

Prior to the aforementioned trials, two of the four suspects in the Lovelady State Bank robbery came before the court and on May 4, a Houston County Jury convicted Alonso Donnell Irving of aggravated robbery for his role in robbing the Lovelady State Bank on Dec. 17, 2015.


It took the five woman – seven man jury less than 15 minutes to render a guilty verdict in the case. Once the jury had reached its decision, the punishment phase of the trial began.

Irving received a sentence of 45 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division and will be eligible for parole after he has served 22 and one-half years.

The second trial in the Lovelady State Bank robbery followed in June and on June 8 a Houston County jury found Demetrius Gerald Wheeler, 27, guilty of aggravated robbery for his role in the bank heist. This time, the guilty verdict took less than 10 minutes.


After several delays, Wheeler also received a sentence of 45 years in prison. The other two suspects in the robbery area Ryan Scott and Allus Hubbard. Scott is being held in another county in connection with a capital murder charge. Hubbard turned state’s evidence against Irving and Wheeler. Hubbard and his lawyer are in the process of working out a plea deal with the prosecution, however, no details are currently available.

As far as crime in 2017, two of the major crimes involved both another murder and another bank robbery.

On June 22, Ricki Dean Taylor was reported as missing to the Palestine Police Department. A day later, her body was found on a desolate stretch of road in Houston County. It was determined she had died from a gunshot wound to the head.


Eight days after she was reported missing and subsequently found murdered, the Palestine Police Department arrested Taylor’s ex-husband, Andrew Glenn Taylor, 50, for the homicide.

The second bank robbery mentioned occurred at Citizens National Bank in Crockett and involved an ex-employee. Former Crockett resident Leon Tran confessed to robbing the bank after he was taken into custody without incident at a home in College Station.  He was indicted for the crime in mid-December.

There were countless other crimes in both Houston and Anderson Counties throughout the year of 2017. While the majority of the cases discussed in the article above involved the trial aspect of the crime, it goes to show the justice system may be a little slow, but it does work.

Cover Photo Courtesy of Bryan College Station Eagle

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

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