DA makes progress with legal seizure of S. 11th Street residence
By LYNETTE SOWELL
A residence in the 700 block of South 11th Street has been the subject of intense scrutiny by neighbors, and umerous arrests have been made at that location by theCopperas Cove Police Department for more than a year now. If all goes as planned, by October the property will legally be seized as part of an effort by Coryell County District Attorney Dusty Boyd’s office.
Boyd filed the petition with the court in June, he told the Leader-Press. “Things are moving along, and this should be complete by October,” he said. After the litigation is over, the property will become the property of the state, Boyd added. It will then be sold at public auction, with the proceeds being divided between Boyd’s office and the Copperas Cove Police Department. The money can then be used for officer training or equipment. Boyd said in cases like this, the law is very specific on what the money can be spenton.
Boyd cited one example about two years ago when the Gatesville Police Department seized several 18-wheelers which were used in stealing diesel fuel. The $80,000 his office received after the sale of those vehicles at auction was shared with the Gatesville Police Department. Such asset seizure and forfeiture has also been used in the past by agencies to seize motorcycles, cars and even electronic items like iPads that were used in the narcotics trade.
“The court must connect (the property) to a felony offense,” Boyd said.
Neighbors in the 700 block of South 11th Street came no fewer than three times to council meetings this spring to complain not only about the fact there was no running water at that residence and high grass, but also about the drug activity and numerous arrests at that address. In the month of April alone, there were at least 10 arrests at that address for drug-related charges. The residents compiled lists of license plates—as many as 50—and submitted hundreds of photographs of the individuals coming in and out of the property.
During one council meeting, Deputy Chief Mike Heintzelman reported the Copperas Cove Police Department had consulted with the Texas Attorney General’s office, and the property did not meet the criteria for a nuisance abatement, which then led to the solution of asset forfeiture and seizure. At the June 2 meeting, South 11th Street resident Stephen Seacrest presented the council with a copy of a notarized affidavit which was signed and dated by a Brenda Lee Fies, one of the owners of the property, dated May 7, 2015. Fies affirmed that she did not currently live at the property and would not do so until her outstanding water bill was paid in full. Then on August 11, Brenda Lee Roach, who apparently has also gone by the name Brenda Lee Fies, was arrested at that residence for five warrants of arrest, for water supply not properly connected (three warrants), weeds/grass/ rubbish/junk/unsightly matter (two warrants).
Boyd described the case of the S. 11th Street house as “unique” and that the situation gets “really sensitive,” as one of the home’s owne rs, Christopher Roach, does not live at the home and has had no involvement in the activities. To Roach’s credit, Boyd said he has attempted to remove his sister from the property to no avail.
“I think we have a good solution for the neighbors on that street,” Boyd said. The main objective, Boyd added, is to remove this property from the narcotics environment.
"Not only can we arrest you, we will take it away,” Boyd said.