A Port Arthur man has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for burglary.
Gerald Franklin, 47, of Port Arthur, was sentenced Thursday in connection with a 2012 residential burglary in Port Arthur.
On August 2, 2012, an 80-year-old, woman whose home had been destroyed by Hurricane Ike, was preparing to move into a new home located in the 600 block of 10th Street. Even before she could formally move in, a neighbor said he witnessed Franklin and one other person, later identified as Marthur Dingle, break into the house and come back out carrying two 5-gallon of buckets of paint. The neighbor quickly called the Port Arthur Police department, describing the actors and their vehicle. They were detained a few blocks away and were subsequently identified by the witness.
Dingle, who had already been in custody and had pleaded guilty to the offense (five year sentence) appeared as a witness for the defense and told the jury that Franklin never entered the residence. No other witnesses were called by the defense.
After returning a guilty verdict at approximately 9:30 a.m. Thursday before Criminal District Court, Judge John Stevens, the jury learned that Franklin had eight previous felony convictions, going as far back as 1984 (for auto theft), and with the most recent in 2007 (for felony theft). Since he was an habitual offender, Franklin faced a punishment range of 25 to 99 years or life, and the jury handed up its 55-year sentence.
Prosecutor Koby Hoffpauir said, "This is an habitual offender who has shown over and over that he simply will not change his ways. I am very pleased with the sentence that this jury handed down. They worked long and hard on this case, but found their way to justice."