A Port Arthur man was sentenced to half a lifetime in prison for a brazen daytime burglary some three months after he pleaded guilty to two other robberies.
LaJohn Fitzgerald Wilson, 22, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury Sept. 12 for burglary of a habitation, a second-degree felony. Wilson was on 10 years probation for two August 2011 aggravated robberies to which he pleaded guilty.
In this latest burglary, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Examiner, Wilson wait until the owner of a Minnie Street home in Port Arthur had left before breaking in.
Had it not been for 12-year-old Deion Murdock, who hid in his mother’s closet at the sound of two men breaking into his home, Wilson might never have been caught by police.
At a hearing in Judge John Stevens’ Criminal District Court on Friday, Nov 15, Deion testified he was playing video games at the time of the robbery.
“I was in my room playing my game and I heard someone knocking on the window,” a confident Murdock testified. “So I turned around and saw a shadow, so I grabbed the phone.”
Hiding in his mother’s closet as the two men broke through his window and tried to break down his mother’s locked door, Murdock testified he stayed on the phone with police as the two unknown men rummaged through his house, taking his Playstation 3, laptop and other assorted video games and their consoles.
“Everything got water damage except for the laptop,” Murdock said, as it had been raining that August day.
Although Deion said he never got a good look at the two men, he was able to catch a glimpse of at least one man in tan shorts as he fled out the front door with police in hot pursuit.
Deion said he was “a little bit” scared and didn’t come out of the closet until he was sure he wouldn’t be harmed.
“I didn’t come out until I heard his walkie talkie,” Deion said.
According to testimony from Officer Peter Croak, a seasoned K-9 handler with the Port Arthur Street Crimes unit, officers were already in pursuit of the two suspects when Croak arrived with his canine partner.
Friday, Nov. 15, Croak testified he tracked the two suspects back to Minnie Street, where the burglary had taken place, and eventually found Wilson — wearing tan shorts — nearby.
“He started tracking back toward Minnie and we arrived at like a beach-style house that was up on piers,” Croak testified. “(The K-9 unit) was looking underneath the house and I looked underneath the house and that’s when I observed the defendant hiding underneath the house.”
Friday, Nov. 22, other Port Arthur police officers testified they helped detain and/or take statements from Wilson that day, statements denying Wilson knew about the burglary and had entered the home unaware his accomplice didn’t live there.
Wilson’s accomplice, Jarrod Johnson, who later pleaded guilty to his part in the burglary, was found in a home where he lived across the street from where the robbery took place.
Johnson took to the stand in defense of Wilson, saying it was he who had tricked Wilson into taking part in the robbery. Johnson said Wilson waited on the couch while Johnson filled a white pillow case full of electronics, before recanting his previous sworn statements given to police the day of the burglary — implicating Wilson as the brains of the operation.
After two days of victim and police testimony to the contrary, Judge John Stevens wasn’t convinced and found Wilson guilty of the second burglary.
Wilson pleaded not guilty to his part in the burglary, which prompted Friday’s hearing and eventual sentence of 50 years in state prison for the three robberies.
After hearing Wilson’s 50-year sentence, Deion’s mother, Martha Washington, tearfully said she was happy with the prison term.
“He could have killed my baby,” Washington said.