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District attorney prepared to enhance crimes during disaster declaration - Odessa American: Crime Justice

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District attorney prepared to enhance crimes during disaster declaration

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Posted: Monday, March 30, 2020 6:15 pm

For the first time, Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland has had to implement a Texas Penal Code that he said his office hasn’t previously used.

Texas Penal Code 12.50 details increased punishment for the next higher category of offense if the offense was committed in an area that was declared a state of disaster by the president of the United States, governor or presiding officer of the governing body of a political subdivision.

According to the Texas.Public.Law website, offenses that can increase in punishment are assault, arson, robbery, burglary, burglary of coin-operated or coin collection machines, burglary of vehicles, criminal trespass and theft.

Texas Penal Code 12.50 went into effect when Gov. Greg Abbott inked a disaster declaration on March 13, while Odessa Mayor David Turner signed his on March 18.

Bobby Bland said law enforcement can increase punishment for those particular charges immediately, while the district attorney’s office can also pursue increased punishment.

“I want to make this clear,” Bland said. “If you commit one of these crimes in Ector County during this time, you can be enhanced. We reserve the right to enhance every single one of them.

“More than ever, this isn’t the time to go around committing crimes in Ector County.”

On March 19 and March 22, respectively, Mark Marichalar-Holguin and Luis Manuel Mendoza Jr. were each charged with robbery, which is normally a second-degree felony.

Marichalar-Holguin, 31, stole nearly $1,400 worth of merchandise from Dillard’s at the Music City Mall, an Odessa Police Department affidavit detailed.

While Marichalar-Holguin was being escorted to the Mall Security Office, he reportedly pushed a mall security guard and attempted to flee the scene with his stolen merchandise. He dropped the merchandise during the assault and fled the scene prior to the police arrival.

Marichalar-Holguin was later arrested and booked into the Ector County Law Enforcement Center on Tuesday. In the final note of his affidavit, it details “During the time when the offense of robbery (F2) was committed on 3/19/2020, that the State of Texas was under a declaration of a state of disaster. Due to this, the robbery (F2) charge was enhanced to robbery (F1) as per Texas Penal Code 12.50.”

Mendoza, 19, reportedly stole two tall boy beers around 7:53 p.m. March 22 from Lowe’s Grocery Store, located at 826 W. Clements St.

As Mendoza concealed the two beers in his front pockets, he attempted to walk to the exit door and made no attempt to pay, an OPD affidavit detailed. Mendoza was stopped by the store manager, identified as Rebecca Malone, at the exit doors and she asked Mendoza to take the beers out of his pockets. The beer was weighing down his pants, which caused them to fall to his ankles and expose his blue underwear.

Mendoza reportedly pushed Malone, which caused her to fall backward on the ground and he took off running. Mendoza was arrested near the intersection of Lindberg and Clifford with an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath. He also had glassy eyes, slurred speech and was unsteady on his feet.

Mendoza was charged with robbery, a second-degree felony, and public intoxication. Mendoza has one bond totaling $25,000 and was still in custody as of Monday afternoon, jail records show. Marichalar-Holguin had two bonds totaling $50,500 and posted bail on Tuesday.

Though Mendoza wasn’t initially charged with an enhanced robbery charge, Bland said the district attorney’s office can pursue the enhancement to a first-degree felony while Texas is under a disaster declaration.

“Anybody that commits a crime in Ector County while we are declared in a disaster area is subject to charged one degree higher,” Bland said.

Odessa, TX

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