BISD spokesperson found guilty, no jail time unless probation violated

It took a jury Thursday about 35 minutes to find Beaumont Independent School District spokesperson Jessie Haynes guilty of obstructing a passageway.  The case went to the jury for deliberations at 11:30 a.m.  A verdict was reached just after noon.

Punishment has been set at a 90 day suspended jail sentence, two-years probation, a $2,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.  County Court at Law No. 3 Judge Langston Adams has also ordered Haynes to attend educational classes, including anger management.

Defense Attorney Tom Swanson told 12News he has filed an appeal.

There was no immediate reaction from people inside the courtroom or from Jessie Haynes as the unanimous guilty verdict was announced.

Haynes rejected a plea deal before testimony in the trial began. The deal would have set punishment at a one-year deferred sentence and a $1,000 fine.

Punishment phase

The state decided not to call any witnesses in the punishment phase.  Witnesses called by the defense include Yolanda Rory, Beaumont NAACP Director Paul Jones, Evelyn Fontenot and Former BISD Superintendent Dr. Carrol Thomas.

Dr. Thomas testified that Haynes is a thoughtful employee who is very good at what she does.  He asked for a minimum punishment.  The prosecutor asked him if he would fire Haynes if convicted under his tenure.  He said, with the evidence in this case, no.

Fontenot, who was emotional on the stand, said she doesn't know anyone who does more community service than Jessie Haynes.

Rory said she's known Haynes for 20 years and does not think she would ever knowingly break the law.

Thursday testimony

Thursday's proceedings began with no objections by the state or the defense.

Once it was established that there were no objections, the court took a five minute recess before closing arguments began. The official charge was read in court following the recess.  Haynes' charge of obstructing a passageway was read aloud to the jury with instructions by Judge Adams.

The state began closing arguments by talking about Attorney Melody Chappell.

"She's paid big bucks to protect the district," said the prosecutor.

Assistant District Attorney Waylon Thompson told the jury, the new joke is, "How many BISD lawyers does it take to realize they're having a press conference?"

Thompson said Haynes had a big grin on her face.  She was loving every minute of it.  He said Chappell testified that  she never spoke to Haynes.  He said this means Haynes did this on her own, which he says shows her guilt.

"This is not about BISD," said defense attorney Tom Swanson.

Swanson fired back at prosecutors, saying, "How many lawyers does it take to try a Class B Misdemeanor?"

The defense said the photos provided by Reporter Jerry Jordan may have been photoshopped and pointed out that Haynes has the responsibility to control media.  Swanson said the constitution does not say freedom of the press is unlimited.

"Another 2-year contract being approved is a contradiction," said Swanson.

Swanson said, "Neil tried to get in the middle of something he had no authority of."

Swanson said Neil should have alerted Superintendent Dr. Timothy B. Chargois.

Prosecutor Ashley Chase said, "It's time to hold BISD and its administrators accountable for their actions."

Chase told the jury it's time to open the doors on the secrets of BISD, and you are those doors.  Chase told the jury that Haynes made a mistake when she made accusations of assault, calling Haynes a liar who should be accountable for her actions.

Chase said Officer San Miguel risked his job by saying he was asked to change his report, saying, you heard no one say that wasn't true.

"If she (Haynes) gets to behave that way, what message does it send to our children," said Chase.

The state wrapped up its closing arguments telling the jury, saying a guilty verdict will, "send a message to this community that justice is done."


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