During the punishment phase of trial, prosecutors introduced evidence showing that Vernon had been to prison five different times for a total of eight felony convictions. His federal probation officer also testified that Vernon had been released from the federal penitentiary just seven months prior to his latest arrest. Among Vernon’s prior convictions were four robberies, two drug possession charges, one drug distribution case and a burglary of a vehicle.
“This defendant is a habitual offender two-and-a-half times over,” Swain said. “The jurors in this case stepped forward on behalf of our community and said we’ve had enough.”
Jurors deliberated about an hour before returning their guilty verdict and a little over an hour before assessing Vernon’s sentence at 50 years in prison.
Due to a jury finding that the way that he drove his vehicle during the pursuit could have caused death or serious bodily injury, Vernon will not be eligible to be paroled until 2038, Swain said.
43rd District Judge Craig Towson presided over the trial.