Pruitt gets 35 years

Clarification: In the July 27 edition of the Herald-Gazette, the article “Trial begins in death of teen” references Jordan Pruitt’s testimony as her having said Zach Hamm went to the Pruitt residence and tried to wake up Trey at 10:30 a.m. on the day of his death. 

Jordan did say 10:30 a.m., but according to DA investigator Jack McGuinn, Jordan was mistaken in her testimony and was later asked while on the stand if she meant 2:30 p.m. to which she answered yes.

 

A Jack County woman found guilty of delivery of a controlled substance to a child was given a 35-year sentence by a jury Friday afternoon.

Christy Pruitt was found guilty Thursday of the charge with Friday being the punishment phase. The seven-man, five woman jury also assessed a $10,000 fine. She will be eligible for parole after 17 1/2 years.

Jay Lapham, 271st Judicial District assistant DA, said the sentence was a strong message to not be delivering drugs in the county.

Court proceedings began in the punishment phase began shortly after 9 a.m. Friday with the attorneys for both sides arguing as to what evidence the prosecution could present.

Lapham wanted to enter a series of texts between the defendant, Christy Pruitt, and several men in addition to evidence a number of illegal acts other than what she was found guilty of Thursday evening.

With the jury absent in the courtroom, Lapham told the court there were texts that were sexual in nature between Pruitt and 17 different men, some married, within a 25 day period prior to her son, Trey Pruitt’s death by overdose.

Lapham explained the state is allowed to provide extraneous evidence concerning prior “bad acts” and that the texts illustrated such.

Defense attorney Bob Estrada argued that texts between consenting adults do not constitute bad acts and said they were irrelevant.

“The relevance is that in the weeks leading up to the death of her son, she’s out partying with all these men so when he calls her up and asks for drugs, she just tells him where they are and he’s dead as a result. That’s the relevance,” said ADA Patrick Berry.

Judge Brock Smith said the evidence should be limited to that in relation to acts that were an “unquestioned violation of the law.”

That evidence pointed to crimes of theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, delivery of a controlled substance, assault and prostitution.

The state brought DA investigator Jack McGuinn to the stand and he testified of emails in which Christy Pruitt offered to give some of her deceased stepfather’s hospice drugs to two different men and supply one of them with marijuana.

Jack County Sheriff’s Deputy Doug Angell testified that while searching her purse at the residence at North 4th Street, he found a small bag with a methamphetamine pipe, two small zip sealed baggies with what is believed to be methamphetamine residue, a part of a plastic drinking straw, a small spring and foam or cotton balls.

Britta Kent, an owner of the Wichita Falls bar The Waterhole, testified that Christy Pruitt assaulted a woman at the bar and she provided video.

The video showed Pruitt at the bar on the night of Dec. 6, 2017 and beating a woman late in the evening.

Lori Gallardo, a Wichita Falls nurse, testified Friday that she was the woman assaulted by Pruitt on Dec. 6, 2017 at The Waterhole. She said she couldn’t work for three days her face was so swollen and bruised. She said she was out approximately $5,500 in medical costs and lost wages as a result of the assault.

Two men testified to having sex with Pruitt at hotels out of town and giving her money. One said he paid her for the sex, the other said it was for “gas and stuff ... I was just trying to help her out.”

Prosecutors brought business owner Larry Lawley to the stand. Lawley said Christy Pruitt worked for him as a bookkeeper from February 2016 to July 2016 and allegedly stole more than $22,000 from the business. Lawley said it could be more but he stopped counting.

Lawley said she wrote several checks to pay a vendor, using Quick Books software printed the check with her name on it and then changed it back to the vendor name. She used company cards to pay for personal items and also used a company check to pay off a title loan on her truck.

Jacksboro School Resource Officer Matt Windham also took the stand and said Trey Pruitt was a good kid but would give you his opinion and tell you if you were wrong. He admitted the loss of Pruitt, who Windham coached, was “tough on him.”

Defense attorney Bob Estrada brought Steve Morrow of Wichita Community Services, who said he had known Pruitt about six months. Morrow said he had offered her a job as his bookkeeper and said the job still stood, even after being informed that Christy Pruitt had lost a prior bookkeeping job for theft and embezzlement.

In closing arguments, Lapham said Christy Pruitt was willing to put her teenage daughter in the Texas Youth Commission by asking her to retrieve a phone that had incriminating texts on it, got into a fight and delivered drugs even after being arrested.

“She didn’t attempt to change her ways even after being arrested,” Lapham said.

Estrada argued that she is already serving a “life sentence” and to take into consideration she had no prior convictions which did make her eligible for parole.

She’ll never be able to hold or touch her son again,” Estrada said. “She’ll never see him make a play or growing into a man. That’s her life sentence. That will change her life forever.”

 

Berry asked the jury what kind of statement did they want to make after knowing Trey Pruitt died as a result of his mother’s actions.

“Through the grace of God, her daughter and his friend aren’t laying on the floor dead themselves,” Berry said. “It was just pure dumb luck.”

With a number of audience members wearing “88 Strong” shirts remembering Pruitt’s football number, Berry asked the jury to sentence Christy Pruitt to 88 years to make a strong statement. 

Jacksboro Newspapers

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