Crossroads man's fate undecided for 1985 criminal case
Aug. 16, 2014 at 5:15 p.m.
Updated Aug. 16, 2014 at 10:22 p.m.
Video by Jessica Priest for The Victoria Advocate
It's still 1985 for George Hosey.
Velton Williams, a game warden in Goliad County, was shot Sept. 28, 1985, while attempting to serve misdemeanor warrants on Amos Hosey and his son, George, then 15.
Afterward, the Hoseys fled the small town.
That much everyone can agree on.
"Me being a little kid, never being in trouble, I figured it wouldn't be that bad. It was bad from Day 1," Hosey said.
Thursday, after a busy docket that had prisoners in yellow, orange and pinstriped jumpsuits in and out of a DeWitt County courtroom, Judge Stephen Williams focused on Hosey. Now in his 40s, Hosey was sitting opposite him wearing plaid shorts, a gray shirt and flip-flops.
His father died in prison almost a year ago.
The courtroom fell silent as Williams, like others in the position before him, tried to decipher what's happened in the decades-old case that has some paperwork out of order, unsigned or missing.
The state is asking Williams to send Hosey to prison - again.
The Hoseys were indicted in 1986 for attempted capital murder, burglary of a vehicle and aggravated robbery.
Before the indictment was returned, Goliad County Judge John R. Barnhill, who also presided over juvenile cases, decided Hosey should be tried as an adult.
Of those charges, he's only been found guilty of burglary of a vehicle, for which he received 10 years probation.
When he slipped up, the state sent Hosey to boot camp and then to restitution centers in Brownsville and Beaumont.
"I guess they sent me somewhere where they expected me not to make it," Hosey said. "In Brownsville, I couldn't get a job because I didn't speak the language."
His frustration mounted in 1992 in Beaumont, where he worked at a DuPont plant, and most of his $800 paycheck went to fees associated with his case.
Hosey ran away to Oklahoma because he remembered a childhood friend enjoyed vacationing there.
But the only strong pull the state had over him was that it wasn't Texas.
In Hosey's version of events, within a few days, he began working in body shops in Tulsa and met a woman whom he'd go on to have six children with.
He filed income taxes and earned certifications needed for a career as a mechanic at the local community college.
He was also on his way to buying a house.
"Even though I was on the run, I didn't want to get these certificates in somebody else's name. I figured when all of this stuff was over, I got the certificates, so I can do what I wanted to do in life," Hosey said. "Things haven't gone that way."
Williams' story of 1985 differs.
While Hosey said Williams and other Goliad officials had a vendetta against his family, Williams said the county judge requested he arrest them if he ever happened upon the two men.
While Hosey said Williams raised his weapon first, Williams said it was Amos Hosey who charged at him armed.
Hosey said he wasn't holding anything, but Williams recalled the teenager striking him repeatedly over the head with a metal object.
Hosey said he and his father immediately fled, but Williams said they did so only after stealing his .357 Magnum duty revolver, Ruger .22 semiautomatic and car keys.
Williams hasn't let the shooting define his life, though.
Sure, the crooked middle finger on his left hand reminds him of it daily, but he went on to work as a game warden for another 18 years.
The bullet went through several fingers, hit a metal pen in his left shirt pocket and deflected to the right side of his chest.
"If it had gone straight, I would have died," Williams said.
These days, he hunts and fishes with his two small, black dogs.
He's probably told the story of that day 10 times in court, more elsewhere. It's even memorialized in Mike Bradshaw's book, "Texas Game Warden Chronicles: From Cowboy Era to Helicopter Hunt," which he keeps on a bookshelf at home.
"As you get older, you forget things, but you don't forget the truth," Williams said.
He was surprised to receive a subpoena for Hosey's case in the mail this summer but figured "it's just a case that had to be cleared up."
And he's hesitant to opine about Hosey or the fate of his father.
All he'll say about the elder Hosey's trial is: "I don't always agree with everything the courts do - whether it's good or bad - because there's nothing you can do. That's just the way it is."
Hosey spent about 12 years on the run. One day, he noticed a police officer following him home.
"I pulled myself over. I have a bad habit of doing that," he said, chuckling.
He told the officer his name was Jerry Malone, which had worked on run-ins before. This time, he was taken in for driving without a license. His past caught up to him.
"He said, 'Boy, you've had a pretty good run of it, huh? I said, 'Yeah, but I'm tired of running,'" Hosey said.
Hosey was extradited to Texas, where he was sentenced to the original 10 years in prison for the burglary of vehicle charge. He was paroled after four years.
Although he doesn't remember it, he signed an agreement then pleading guilty to the 1985 aggravated robbery charge, for which he received 10 years of deferred adjudication stacked on top of his previous prison sentence.
The state, in exchange, dropped the 1985 attempted capital murder charge.
Under deferred adjudication, a charge can be dismissed if the defendant successfully completes the probation. But the defendant could receive the maximum sentence if the probation is revoked.
That is what Hosey now faces, and aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, could net him a life sentence, just like his father.
"It's not like he's turned a new leaf, and we're just now bringing this up," said Terry Breen, an assistant district attorney in Goliad.
Hosey has violated the terms he struck in 2004 with the state again and again. His more recent encounter with law enforcement began in January when the Goliad County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant at his home.
Deputies were looking for items a neighbor reported his sons stole; they found marijuana and a gun in a recreational vehicle that had been on his property for four months.
He is also charged with threatening that neighbor and two counts of assaulting a public servant.
Hosey committed the assaults after he was found babbling in his cell and claimed he had a stroke, Breen said.
"When trying to take his blood pressure, George stood up and punched the EMT several times in the head, ran around the gurney and attacked him again. A jailer came in and held him down and in the process hurt his knee," Breen said.
The case is "ancient," and "there's not much institutional memory about it," but part of that is because of Hosey's elusiveness, Breen said.
"Just going through the file is a major headache. Believe me," he said. "I wish it had been better documented, but I can't really complain considering all the hands that have touched it."
Although the case is not a priority, "we're not just going to blow it off" either, Breen added.
In her numerous briefings to the court, Hosey's attorney, Victoria Davis, tried to show how, for the state, facts were malleable.
Not only does she think the statute of limitations expired, but also Davis contends the state should only carve one charge out of one set of facts.
She referred to it as double jeopardy.
Further, the county judge who waived jurisdiction over Hosey's case as a teenager also did not list the aggravated robbery in his order.
"They are determined to see him die in prison just like his daddy," Davis said. "He just expects the worse every time he goes out of the house, and I can't really blame him because that's what he has gotten his whole life."
Thursday, Judge Williams seemed most concerned about whether it was proper Hosey's deferred adjudication began after his prison sentence.
The Court of Criminal Appeals determined in 2006 a judge abuses his discretion by ordering a defendant's deferred adjudication to run consecutively with a prison term.
The difference between that 2006 case and Hosey's is he agreed to have his deferred adjudication run consecutively, which bars him from complaining about it later, Breen said.
"Mr. (Stephen) Tyler (the defense attorney at the time) had it on the record that they considered everything," Breen said. "We think it's proper to stack deferred on top of pen time. We have no doubts about that."
When the judge asked attorneys to send him more research about the issues they were at odds on, Hosey's wife, Dawn, breathed a sigh of relief.
The judge will review the briefs over the next 10 days and either come to a decision or schedule another hearing.
Outside the courtroom, Dawn Hosey hugged her daughter, who asked, "Are we going home forever?"
"I'm hoping forever, yes," she replied.
Hosey was resting in a chair beside them after consulting with Davis.
"We're feeling better," he said, "But it's still up in the air."