Joseph Herrera Barrera, 26, was found guilty in October of two counts of assaulting a public servant, typically third-degree felony offenses punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The charges were enhanced to second degree felony offenses because Barrera had spent time at a Texas Youth Commission facility as a youth.
Barrera is accused of kicking a Beeville police officer in the face while he was being arrested in July, and for head butting a Bee County jailer afterwards.
The sentencing phase of Barrera’s trial was delayed until Monday in order for adult probation officials to conduct a pre-sentencing investigation on Barrera to determine if he is a suitable candidate for probation.
Probation officials recommended Barrera be sentenced to prison.
Assistant District Attorney Deborah Branch followed the recommendation by adult probation and asked District Courth Judge Janna Whatley to sentence Barrera to 10 years in prison. She noted his criminal background and cited Barrera’s repeated failure to assist adult probation during the pre-sentencing investigation as required by the court.
Barrera was judged to be delinquent in October 1998 and sentenced to TYC after he had set fire to a paper banner hanging in the hallway at A. C. Jones High School earlier that year. Since then he has been arrested for driving while intoxicated and marijuana possession.
On Feb. 18 he violated a protective order and broke into the home of a woman who is mother to his children, Branch noted.
Barrera’s court-appointed attorney, Joel Thomas of Sinton, asked Whatley to sentence his client to an outpatient drug and alcohol counseling facility so that he could continue to provide for his two children.
Barrera is presently unemployed but could have a job within a week or two, Thomas said.
Thomas said the outpatient facility also will provide Barrera with much-needed anger management counseling.
Thomas admitted Barrera has had run-ins with the law in the past, but they were all misdemeanor offenses and not felony convictions.
“Would you say that your trial opened your eyes to possibilities ... of prison?” Thomas asked Barrera.
“Yeah,” Barrera responded.
Whatley agreed with Branch and, during Monday’s bench trial, sentenced Barrera to 10 years in prison on both charges and ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine on one of the two charges.
He will have to serve both sentences at the same time.
Whatley said she would consider offering Barrera “shock probation” after he has spent some time in prison. Shock probation is offered to first-time offenders to give them a taste of prison life or to shock them into realizing that prison is no place to be.
To be considered for shock probation, however, inmates must be on their best behavior while serving their prison time.
That may be difficult for Barrera, who couldn’t refrain from snapping at peace officers as they handcuffed him and led him to a van that took him back to county jail on Tuesday.
Court Bailiff Tom Brown said Barrera gave him some guff in the hallway.
“He was a little uncooperative,” Brown said. “He got a little mouthy. He didn’t head butt me or kick me but he was a little mouthy.”