Career criminal gets 60 years

  • In US
  • 2022-10-06 00:04:00Z
  • By Odessa American, Texas

Oct. 5-A career criminal from Odessa who fled from police officers in June 2021 and crashed into a car carrying two bystanders was sentenced to 60 years in prison Wednesday.

It took jurors in the 70th Ector County District Court 30 minutes Tuesday to convict Roberto Serrano Franco, 45, of aggravated assault on a public servant and evading arrest with a vehicle and less than an hour to sentence him to 60 years on each count. The sentences will run concurrently.

Because Franco had four prior felony convictions, the jury had the option of giving Franco 25 to 99 years or life on each charge.

Under Texas law, Franco will be eligible for parole after serving half of his aggravated assault sentence or 30 years, whichever is less. As for the evading charge, he's eligible for good time credits and will have to serve one quarter of his sentence or 15 years, whichever is less.

Assistant Ector County District Attorneys Melissa Williams and Gabriel Maliha called several law enforcement officers to the stand who testified they discovered a stolen work truck in a garage around 2:30 a.m. June 23, 2021. As they were taking one suspect into custody, they said Franco came bursting through a half-closed garage door in the stolen vehicle, sending debris flying.

Jurors heard that as Franco drove down the alley, he struck another vehicle, sending it into one of the officers, causing minor injuries. Jurors heard testimony that officers fired 19 shots at Franco as he fled, but he escaped with only a finger injury.

Franco then went through a red light and struck a vehicle carrying a mother and daughter on their way to dialysis. Charges pertaining to those victims were dismissed prior to trial.

Officers found the wrecked truck and Franco the following day.

Franco testified he went to the garage to "amicably resolve" a dispute with another man over a woman and didn't realize the people waiting outside the garage were law enforcement officers despite the fact officers testified the red and blue lights on their patrol units were flashing at the time.

During the punishment phase of the trial, Franco said he was raised by a father who sold cocaine and race horses for a living and he began bagging the cocaine for his father at the age of nine. His mother spent most of his youth in federal prison, he said.

Franco acknowledged he's been convicted multiple times of being a drug dealer and for committing a robbery. While "the integration process has been my biggest difficulty," Franco said in the future, "I plan on doing good no matter where I'm at, whether it's prison or in the free world."

Defense attorney Kevin Acker pleaded for mercy for Franco, reminding the jury of his difficult upbringing. He suggested the criminal justice system and Franco are equally responsible for his inability to stay free of drugs.

Williams told the jurors they need to ask themselves how long they want the community to be safe from Franco, especially since he's proven "he will lie, he will steal, he will do anything he can to get away from law enforcement."

While the circumstances of his childhood are regrettable, "at some point everyone's responsible for taking control of their life," Williams said.

She told jurors Franco literally won't stop committing crimes and only they can stop him.

"He's got every motivation to get up there all mild mannered and soft spoken and promise to do better next time," Williams said.

Judge Denn Whalen presided over the trial.


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