— By CHRISTIN COYNE
A Parker County jury handed a life sentence Wednesday evening to a man who pleaded guilty to stealing copper from an East Parker County church two years ago.
The jury reached its decision after about 40 minutes of deliberation late Wednesday afternoon. 43rd District Court Judge Craig Towson stacked the life sentence on top of a current 30-year sentence defendant Billy Clay Wade is serving.
The 49-year-old Wade, who has a lengthy criminal history, faced 25 to 99 years or life in prison after pleading guilty to felony criminal mischief for causing about $52,000 of damage by destroying the air-conditioning units at Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish off Old Weatherford Road in May 2011.
The stacked sentences were significant, Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain said. Wade, on parole for a 30-year sentence at the time of the offense, had his parole revoked and will not start serving the life sentence assessed Wednesday until he is paroled on the other offense, according to Swain.
Wade could be eligible for parole on the life sentence when his actual time served and good time awarded equal 15 years.
Authorities took additional security measures during the trial because of Wade’s lengthy history of escaping custody or fleeing police, including an escape from a mental hospital last September.
Wade was wearing additional security devices and extra deputies were present during the two days of testimony this week.
Psychologist Melody Potter testified she diagnosed Wade with an unspecified psychotic disorder after four hours of evaluation over a weekend in September and believed he was incompetent to stand trial. Potter said she recommended Wade given anti-psychotic medicine to try and restore his competency.
Then-District Judge Trey Loftin found him incompetent in September and ordered him sent to a mental facility for evaluation and treatment.
Asked by prosecutors if she was aware that 10 psychologists had been contacted to do the evaluation that weekend but would not agree to the short time frame, Potter said she was not.
Questioned if it was possible Wade was faking his psychological symptoms and her diagnosis might have changed had she had more information, Potter agreed.
In an interview with the Parker County Sheriff’s Office after his second arrest, Wade said he used a fire extinguisher to break the window of a door and escape.
Based on a recorded conversation between Wade and his stepdaughter at the Parker County Jail that Tim Oglesby, of the Weatherford-Parker County Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team, later listened to. Oglesby testified he believed Wade planned to go to the mental hospital so he could escape.
Wade was found to be competent by District Judge Craig Towson in February after an evaluation by a forensic psychologist.
Defense attorney Tommy Wise reminded jurors of testimony that the man who tracked Wade for two months said he knew of no history of violence.
In addition to 12 alleged non-adjudicated offenses Wade was facing, he has 16 prior felony and three misdemeanor convictions with a total of 120 years of prison time assessed since 1982, Swain told jurors.