ANGLETON — After one former Jones Creek deputy marshal was acquitted by a jury, the other accused of felony tampering with a government record for the same incident had his charges dismissed.
A jury Sept. 19 acquitted Paul Houston LaValle, a Texas City attorney, of a Class A misdemeanor official oppression charge and state-jail felony tampering with a government record.
LaValle, 59, was working his second shift as a part-time deputy for the Jones Creek Marshal’s Office in May 2018 when he encountered fellow deputy Hunter Wright Chase, 24, who was working his first shift on his own.
Chase told LaValle he knew a felon was in a house in the 9000 block of Stephen F. Austin Road, so the two knocked on the back door, then spent about 12 minutes breaking into it, video evidence showed. After crawling into the house, they found the man was not home and LaValle suggested calling into dispatch to say it looked like someone had broken in, but they secured the door, the video showed.
Chase called in and said the door was open, but now secure and no one was on the scene, Brazoria County Sheriff’s dispatcher Jennifer Weaver said.
That constitutes tampering with a government record, prosecutor Kenyata Thompson said. The entrance to the house justified the official oppression charges since it was an illegal search, prosecutors argued.
Both men’s careers with the Jones Creek Marshal’s Office did not last long after that incident. Shortly after, LaValle wrote Marshal William Tidwell an email that stated he wished to apologize to Tidwell and the homeowner, pay for any damages and did not expect to be paid for his work, Tidwell said.
Jurors told The Facts that they did not see the evidence to find LaValle guilty and prosecutors might have brought the wrong charges against him.
About a month later, District Attorney Jeri Yenne submitted a motion to District Judge Terri Holder to drop the charges against Chase.
“Co-defendant Paul LaValle … was acquitted by a jury,” the motion states. “It would not be fair to proceed on this case.”
In October 2018, Chase’s attorney, Vikram Vij said he expected this outcome.
“I think eventually the charges against him will be cleared,” Vij said.