A Rhome man was given 10 years probation by a Wise County jury Wednesday for evading arrest/detention with a vehicle.
Christopher Russell Ashby, 33, pleaded guilty to the charge and elected to have a jury decide his punishment.
The incident took place July 22, 2013, at Ashby’s home near Rhome. His wife called 911 after Ashby had become intoxicated. When officers arrived, Ashby was in a car.
He took off, putting the vehicle in reverse, running over a lawnmower and hitting one of the sheriff’s deputy’s vehicles. He drove around the house and sped off.
Officers chased Ashby, who ran off the roadway a couple of times. The chase ended when he drove over an embankment and crashed. He was arrested by officers and taken to jail.
Ashby was later indicted for evading arrest and aggravated assault of a public servant. Patrick Berry, assistant district attorney, said prosecutors decided to dismiss the aggravated assault of a public servant charge because video was not available from the second officer’s car to show what happened when the first vehicle was struck.
The jury was able to watch the video of the pursuit, and they also heard testimony from the two officers who responded.
Ashby and his wife also testified. Ashby said he knew he was wrong and that he was sorry. He testified he had little memory of the events of that evening.
Because he had never been convicted of a felony in the past, Ashby was eligible for probation. Berry told the jury during closing arguments that the punishment needed to send a message.
“We asked for five years [in prison] because we wanted to send a message that we are going to protect our officers out there on the street,” Patrick said. “I told them in the argument that if they were thinking of giving him probation, give him the maximum of 10 years and $10,000 fine so that the judge would have the full range of punishment open to him if he violated probation, and that’s what they did.”
District Judge John Fostel set the length of probation at 10 years.
The jury also found that a deadly weapon – a car – was used during the incident, which means that if Ashby does go to prison, he will have to serve at least half of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.