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Year in Review: Small space, large dockets present major issues for District Court in ’13
With the first weeks of 2014 finished, Wilson County District Court continues to wrestle with voluminous dockets and a lack of space. For more than two years, court has been held in the courtroom of the Wilson County Criminal Justice Center. A new courtroom is slated for construction within a justice complex planned for the Wilson County Courthouse Annex III campus.
Despite the often shoulder-to-shoulder seating conditions in the courtroom, a number of defendants had cases heard in the 81st and 218th district courts during 2013, including:
•Steven Edward Cole, found guilty by reason of insanity July 16 for his role in a Jan. 15, 2011, shootout with law-enforcement personnel north of Floresville. He was committed to a psychiatric facility.
•Ruth Elizabeth Snider Escalante, who, on Dec. 11, was sentenced to nine years’ probation after the former real estate agent pled no contest to two counts of theft of more than $1,500 but less than $20,000, and to a third similar count related to an elderly victim.
•Jordan Robert Lewis, set to stand trial this year on charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault in connection with his March 3, 2012, escape from the Wilson County Jail. He already has pled guilty to charges of evading arrest or detention with a motor vehicle, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and escape related to that incident.
•Kyle Jacob McKay, who was indicted Jan. 23, 2013, on one count each of murder and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in connection with a Nov. 13, 2012, shooting death outside Stockdale. See related article, page 2A.
•Patsy Lynne Ritchey, who on July 12 was indicted on charges of theft of property worth more than $20,000 but less than $100,000, misapplication of fiduciary property, and theft of property worth more than $1,500 but less than $20,000, all related to her tenure as the treasurer of the Greater La Vernia Chamber of Commerce. Ritchey also is under investigation stemming from allegations of insurance fraud, related to the now-closed Patsy Ritchey Insurance Agency on U.S. 87.
•Maria Elena Wildenstein, who on Nov. 12 was sentenced to seven years’ probation and ordered to make restitution to the La Vernia Independent School District after pleading no contest to one count of misapplication by a fiduciary totaling more than $20,000 but less than $100,000, in connection with 23 checks belonging to the La Vernia Junior High School’s activity fund.
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