A 52-year-old Azle man who was found guilty by a Parker County jury of burglarizing an Azle home was sentenced to 18 years in prison in a trial that concluded June 11 in district court in Weatherford.
Jerry Shad Robbins was convicted of the March 1, 2013 burglary in a case in which jurors heard an emotional 911 call as the crying young woman at the residence described for the dispatcher that Robbins was smashing her front door in with a fence post driver.
“It’s not very often that we catch burglars in the act or right after they break into a house,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain, who tried the case for the prosecution with Assistant District Attorney Abigail Placke. “Azle P.D. had a very quick response time and, due to the detailed description of the suspect and his vehicle provided by the victim, were able to pull over and arrest Mr. Robbins about a block away from the home.”
A search of Robbins’ pickup yielded the fence post driver used in the burglary, a police scanner, pair of handcuffs, a stun gun, several license plates, three garage door openers, two pair of gloves, and a hat with fake hair attached.
“The items found in Mr. Robbins’ pickup were certainly concerning,” Placke said. “Given what we knew about his involvement in the burglary, we weren’t sure how he planned to use them, but there really wasn’t a good answer.”
“The most contested issue in the trial was whether the defendant entered the home,” Swain said. “Under Texas law, an entry occurs when a defendant breaks the plane of the home with his body or with something he’s holding. There was no evidence that Mr. Robbins actually got his body into the house because the chain on the door held. But, since he bashed the door about six inches into the home with the fence post driver, it was legally sufficient to be an entry.”
Jurors deliberated about 30 minutes before returning with a guilty verdict.
During the punishment phase of trial, the defense called two witnesses who testified that Robbins was a registered land surveyor. The witnesses testified that the burglary he was convicted for was out of character for Robbins.
The prosecution admitted records showing that Robbins had convictions for aggravated manufacturing of a controlled substance, burglary of a habitation, and possession of cocaine.
In sentencing Robbins to nearly the maximum sentence allowed under Texas law, District Judge Craig Towson told Robbins that he found the fact that the prior burglary case was for breaking into his adult daughter’s home and stealing her computer particularly aggravating. “You should protect your children, not prey on them,” he said.
Robbins will be eligible for parole after he has completed a quarter of his sentence, Swain said.