A Parker County jury convicted a Benbrook man of possessing half an ounce of methamphetamine with intent to deliver last Tuesday and sentenced him to 40 years in prison in a trial that concluded Wednesday in district court in Weatherford.
Christopher Zane Guevara, 25, was arrested on March 1, 2020 in western Parker County after a Parker County Sheriff’s Office traffic stop yielded 16 grams of methamphetamine.
“During the traffic stop, the deputy located syringes, which Mr. Guevara said were for his ‘diabetic dog’,” said District Attorney Jeff Swain. “Needless to say, that did not put the deputy’s concerns about potential misconduct to rest. When he was told the deputies were going to search his pickup, Mr. Guevara tried to run away. Deputies tried to use their taser to stop him, but it did not work and they had to chase him down. Once they stopped him, they found a baggie with the methamphetamine in it.”
Deputies also found a bag with numerous smaller baggies and a set of scales.
“The contested issue during the guilt-innocence phase of trial was whether Mr. Guevara had the intent to deliver his drugs or was just a user,” said Assistant District Attorney Travis Warner, who tried the case for the prosecution along with Assistant District Attorney Susan Pruett. “We emphasized to the jury that the amount alone indicated he was a meth dealer and that the scales and baggies were proof that he intended to package and sell it.”
“The intent to deliver was the key to getting an appropriate sentence in this case because it changed the ceiling on the range of punishment from a 20 year maximum to a top end of 99 years or life in prison,” Swain said.
Testimony from an investigator with the Parker County Sheriff’s Office with a lengthy career in narcotics enforcement indicated that a typical drug habit would be a quarter to a half gram of methamphetamine a day.
“For context, we typically tell jurors that a gram of methamphetamine is about the same amount as a sugar or Sweet’n Low packet,” Swain said.
Jurors deliberated for about 20 minutes before finding Guevara guilty of the higher charge.
During the punishment phase of trial, a probation officer testified that Guevara was sent to an inpatient drug treatment program on his last methamphetamine charge in 2014. However, after starting the program, Guevara sent the probation officer a letter indicating that he wanted to quit the program and just have his probation revoked.
The defense called a bond supervision officer to testify that the defendant had submitted multiple urinalysis tests which were negative for drug usage.
“This was a situation where we believed Mr. Guevara was acting as a drug dealer for profit, not just to fund his drug habit, as is often the case for low level drug dealers” Pruett said.
Jurors deliberated about an hour before they returned with their verdict in the punishment phase, sentencing Guevara to 40 years in prison.
District Judge Craig Towson presided over the trial, which was in the 43rd District Court.
“This was our court’s first jury trial since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Towson said. “We were thankful that everything went smoothly and that we are at a stage when jurors, witnesses, and attorneys can all feel comfortable coming to the courthouse.”
“Mr. Guevara will be eligible for parole when his actual time served plus his good time credit equals 10 years,” Swain said. “At that point, whether the prison system keeps him or releases him will be up to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.”
After pronouncing the jury’s verdict and sentence, Towson told Guevara, “You need to stay out of trouble when you get out of prison because you can’t outrun your past.”