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Chavez case finally over - Odessa American: ECISD

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Chavez case finally over

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Posted: Friday, December 17, 2010 12:00 am

The four people arrested in connection with a home invasion and assault last fall were formally sentenced Thursday to forms of probation.

If they behave, two won’t be considered legally convicted.

The sentencings conclude a high-profile case involving the interconnected Odessa worlds of law, government, crime and football.

Ector County ISD teacher Stan Wilkins pleaded guilty to assault with bodily injury, a class A misdemeanor, and received two years of deferred adjudication and a $1,000 fine.

Wilkins is a teacher at ECISD’s Virtual High School, a former Bowie football coach, and the son of ECISD Trustee Yollie Wilkins and former Permian High football coach John Wilkins. He will also be responsible for 80 hours community-service restitution and required to refrain from contact with the seven victims of the assault.

Attorney Brian J. Chavez was sentenced to five years community supervision and a $10,000 fine, along with 340 hours of community service. Chavez had attempted Thursday to move his sentencing back to March, hoping to avoid the possibility of disbarment before the completion of several cases he was representing. Though unsuccessful, he was assured the state bar wouldn’t meet again until April, anyway.

Chavez, a former Permian football star, was featured in the book “Friday Night Lights.” Stan Wilkins, although not a focus of the book, was a cornerback on the same 1988 team.

The other two people charged in the case were convicted as part of their July 16 guilty pleas to burglary of a habitation. Jacob Chavez, the attorney’s half-brother, received a 10-year suspended prison sentence and five years probation, along with a $1,500 fine. Rosemary Soto received a 10-year suspended prison sentence along with eight years probation and a $1,500 fine.

Soto’s probation differed from her co-defendants in that she was allowed to visit one of the victims of assault and his wife for the purposes of joint custody of their children.

In June 2009, Soto’s brother Steven “Nano” Soto was fatally gunned down in a hail of automatic rifle fire from several assailments. That case is being prosecuted federally due to the killings of Steven Soto Jose “Chico” Gardea and occurring “during and in relation to” a federal drug trafficking crime, according to an Odessa police affidavit. In the same affidavit, one of the accused, Armando Sauseda Sr., claimed the two men were “coming to his residence to kill him” after the three had an argument over weapons earlier in the day.

The terms of community supervision for Brian Chavez acknowledged that his occupation required him travel and to be around criminals and gang members, so exceptions were granted for such professional interactions. Likewise, Brian Chavez wasn’t disallowed from working at Chavez Law Firm.

As friends previously, all four were allowed to associate with each other. Wilkins was additionally allowed to associate with students having criminal records as part of his employment at ECISD.

On March 23, the Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees voted 5-1 against Superintendent Hector Mendez’ recommendation to terminate Stan Wilkins’ contract, voting instead to extend the former Bowie Junior High teacher and coach’s probationary contract.

Efforts to reach Mendez were unsuccessful Thursday, and Yollie Wilkins declined to say anything about the case.

ECISD communications director Mike Adkins said Stan Wilkins remains employed with the district. He said a change in employment status would require another recommendation from the superintendent and board vote.

“I would not anticipate that a misdemeanor charge would affect that employment, particularly considering it’s a reduction in the charges he originally faced,” Adkins said.

Board President Tom Pace, who voted to extend the probationary contract in March, said he would have to study the case further.

“I’ll have to look and find out the facts of the matter before I make any decision like that,” he said.

Trustee Luis Galvan, who wasn’t yet on the board when it took its March vote, said he would also need to get more information.

“Some people are really upset about it, other people are saying give him another chance,” Galvan said. “I don’t know the guy, but if he pleaded guilty, that sounds like he ought to know he was enough in the wrong.”

Retired judge Blair Cherry was appointed to preside over the case in the 161st District Court after Judge John Smith recused himself. District Judge Bill McCoy appointed Wesley Mau, Assistant Attorney for the State Attorney General’s Office, to prosecute after District Attorney Bobby Bland likewise recused himself. Although neighbors described other people arriving at the home and driving away before police arrived, Mau said no one else would be charged in the crime unless new evidence came to light.

A civil suit against Chavez and his co-defendants was settled in March, and included an agreement not to discuss the terms of the settlement or the case any further. When contacted, occupant of the invaded residence Tammie Carrillo referenced the agreement. When asked if she was satisfied by the outcome she said, “Would you be satisfied?” But she declined to explain further.

All defendants declined to comment in the case. Stan Wilkins’ attorney William R. Bowden interrupted an interview with Wilkins to say no comment for him.

Wilkins’ other attorney, Jason Leach, said he was glad the case was over.

Odessa, TX

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