Weatherford Democrat

December 14, 2013

'Aledo Grinch' gets 70 years prison

Long criminal history, including solicitation of murder conviction, plays into jury’s sentencing decision, prosecutor says


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE

A woman known as the “Aledo Grinch” after being charged with stealing Christmas decorations in the Aledo area last year was sentenced to 70 years in prison by a Parker County jury Friday after being found guilty of a subsequent burglary.

Dana Lanette Brock, 44, was convicted in the 43rd District Court of burglarizing the garage of a home in the 100 block of Inglewood Drive near Aledo on May 28, taking a weed trimmer and power washer.  

A homeowner caught the burglary on camera and deputies reportedly recognized the woman on the surveillance video, which gained notoriety in late 2012.

Months earlier, Brock was identified as a suspect in a series of Christmas decoration thefts in Aledo after surveillance video from one residential theft was published by area media organizations.

When deputies went to a residence in the 100 block of Rim Rock Road on May 28, where Brock was staying, they recovered the stolen items and Brock admitted to the burglary of the garage, claiming she had been coerced, according to testimony Thursday.

Kurt Bienmueller, Brock’s boyfriend, testified that Brock was dragged out of the house by her hair in fear of her life by another man at the residence and forced to commit the burglary. However, according to a recording played for jurors, Brock told investigators that Bienmueller was in the hospital at the time of the burglary.          

“The guilt-innocence phase of trial all came down to whether or not the jury believed that this other man coerced Brock into committing the burglary,” Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain said. “Under Texas law, the burden of proof for a duress justification is on the defense.”

Despite the witness called by Raul Nevarez, Brock’s defense attorney, the jury took five minutes to find Brock guilty.

“The defendant’s long criminal record played a major role in her sentence,” Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Catania said. “We introduced records showing that she had been convicted of solicitation of murder, two injury to a child offenses, two credit card abuse cases, two felony trespasses, two misdemeanor thefts, and numerous other non-adjudicated offenses.”

Catania and Swain introduced evidence of the Aledo Christmas decoration theft during the punishment phase of the trial, as well.

Brock must serve 15 years in prison before she will be eligible to be considered for parole.

“Since good time is part of that equation, however, there is no certainty as to how long this defendant will actually have to serve,” Swain said.

“Our sheriff’s office did an excellent job quickly developing the evidence brought to them in both of these cases,” Swain said. “We needed the help of the news media to get this defendant identified from the ‘Christmas Grinch’ theft offense, which resulted in several Crime Stoppers tips. The awareness within the sheriff’s office of the video resulted in our burglary case being solved within a few hours of it being reported.”