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Jury finds man guilty of misdemeanor assault

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, November 17, 2018
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An Alvord man facing prison time for a felony assault charge was instead found guilty of a misdemeanor charge by a Wise County jury Wednesday.

Rubbin Wayne Stapp

Rubbin Wayne Stapp, 40, pleaded not guilty to the third degree felony charge of assault family/household member by impeding breath or circulation at the beginning of his trial Tuesday afternoon in 271st District Court in Decatur.

Over the course of the two-day trial, Assistant District Attorney Jay Lapham presented evidence that Stapp assaulted his girlfriend, Angela Johnson, 41, Feb. 6 of this year in Chico.

On Wednesday morning, Johnson testified about the incident that took place while she was working. She said Stapp told her he wanted her to go even though she was not finished working.

“He came inside and drug me by my hair, pulled me outside,” she said. ” … He grabbed me by my hair and smashed my head against the truck and started choking me.”

Johnson told the jury she feared for her life and was able to run away and hide in a nearby storage container until a friend picked her up and drove her to a safe location.

She also testified about an assault that took place in July of 2016. In that case, which took place in Runaway Bay, Johnson said Stapp wanted her to go to bed even though she had work to do.

“He choked me and threw me up against the wall. I was gasping for air,” she said.

Stapp pleaded guilty to a felony charge of assault family/household member by impeding breath or circulation in the 2016 incident and was sentenced to two years in prison in 2017.

During cross examination, Stapp’s attorney, David Pearson, questioned Johnson about her testimony that she passed out during the 2018 assault, a fact that she didn’t mention to the officer taking the report the day after the assault.

Johnson is also in the Wise County Jail for drug charges, and Pearson entered several jailhouse letters into evidence that had been written from Johnson to Stapp within the past month showing that she still cared for him and talking about a plea deal she had been offered by the District Attorney’s office in exchange for her truthful testimony in Stapp’s trial.

“Angela Johnson said, ‘he choked me and I passed out.’ That’s the first time that’s been said,” Pearson said of the 2018 assault during his closing argument. “I’d submit she’s added a big fact here for the sake of getting this matter to go her way. That should be a big red flag.”

During his closing argument, Lapham said that the physical violence Stapp showed against Johnson is what happens when he doesn’t get what he wants.

“The defendant needs to be held accountable for his actions,” he said.

The jury deliberated for about 1 1/2 hours before finding Stapp guilty of the lesser charge of assault causes bodily injury family violence, a Class A misdemeanor.

Stapp elected to have Judge Brock Smith determine his punishment, but before that phase of the trial could begin, Stapp accepted a plea deal of 311 days in county jail. Because he’s been in jail since February, that means he will have to serve about 30 more days in jail before his release.

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