A Parker County jury convicted a Hurst woman of a May burglary of a habitation and sentenced her to 70 years in prison in a trial that concluded in District Court in Weatherford on Friday. The Aledo-area homeowner caught the burglar on his home's surveillance video.
Dana Brock, 44, received notoriety last Christmas season and was dubbed the Parker County "Christmas Grinch" for stealing Christmas lights also in the Aledo area and being caught on that homeowner's surveillance video as well. Evidence of that theft offense was introduced during the punishment phase of trial.
Parker County Sheriff's Deputies that responded to the home burglary offense testified that they viewed the video and recognized Brock from the publicity on the “Grinch” video. When they went to the Aledo residence that Brock was known to frequently stay, they found some of the stolen property on the back porch. After showing her a recording of the surveillance video, Brock admitted burglarizing the home and eventually took investigators to additional stolen property from that burglary.
Brock called her boyfriend to testify and attempted to prove that she was coerced into committing the burglary by threats from another man who was at the residence. Assistant District Attorneys Jeff Swain and Kathleen Catania, who tried the case for the state, played a recording in which Brock told investigators that the boyfriend actually was not even present at the time leading up to the burglary. Investigators also pointed out inconsistencies in Brock's descriptions of her injuries on the recording.
"The guilt-innocence phase of trial all came down to whether or not the jury believed that this other man coerced Brock into committing the burglary," Swain said. "Under Texas law, the burden of proof for a duress justification is on the defense."
Jurors considered the evidence, including Brock's duress defense, and found her guilty of the burglary charge after five minutes of deliberations.
"The defendant's long criminal record played a major role in her sentence," Catania said. "We introduced records showing that she had been convicted of solicitation of murder, two injury to a child offenses, two credit card abuse cases, two felony trespasses, two misdemeanor thefts, and numerous other unadjudicated offenses."
Swain said the Sheriff’s Office did a “excellent job quickly developing the evidence brought to them in both of these cases."
"We needed the help of the news media to get this defendant identified from the ‘Christmas Grinch’ theft offense, which resulted in several Crimestoppers tips,” he said. “The awareness within the Sheriff's Office of the video resulted in our burglary case being solved within a few hours of it being reported."
Under Texas law, Brock must serve at least 15 years in prison before she can be considered for parole, Swain said, adding however that good time is part of that equation so there is no certainty as to how long she will actually have to serve.