Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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March 4, 2014

Home break-ins get fifth prison term

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — The hopes of a home invasion defendant and his family were dashed this week when a Garvin County judge handed him a prison term instead of the lighter sentence he had requested.

Testimony and pleas of remorse couldn’t prevent Tygue Stephens, 29, from being sentenced to time behind bars - eight years to be exact — for his involvement in two home break-ins more than three years ago.

Stephens has admitted to being the getaway driver as four other men he conspired with, all wearing masks, forced their way into homes in Pauls Valley and Elmore City on Nov. 14-15, 2010.

Testimony from previous hearings has shown their intentions were to steal whatever they could from alleged drug dealers living in the two residences.

Once inside the four men used various weapons to terrorize and assault those inside, including children.

All of those other defendants have since been sentenced to serve a varying number of years in prison.

On Wednesday it was Stephens’ turn as District Judge Greg Dixon was stern when he announced the defendant would be going to prison rather than the supervised probation argued for by defense attorney Dean Hart Jr. of Pauls Valley.

“I want this day in time to be a crossroads for you because you’re not going to like what this court has to say,” Dixon said while looking directly at the defendant as he stood in the Pauls Valley courtroom.

“You have committed these crimes and this court is going to punish you,” he said.

The judge made it clear he wasn’t “impressed” with many of Stephens’ actions since the crimes occurred.

Also not impressed with Stephens was Tara Portillo, a Garvin County assistant district attorney prosecuting the case.

“He doesn’t get to hide behind the wheel of a car,” Portillo said.

“He drove the vehicle, he was the only one with a vehicle and if he hadn’t driven this may not have happened. He should bear the consequence of that,” she argued.

Stephens did take the stand to testify during this week’s hearing, but it was his comments in a pre-sentence investigation that seemed to come to the forefront.

“The fact I played a role in something that brought fear into someone’s life haunts me every day,” he wrote in the report.

“(I am) ashamed of my weakness as I ignored my chances to change the outcome of that night, and the regret I made the wrong choice initially, which could have prevented it altogether.”

He did testified he was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the home invasions.

“I knew they were going in and collect money from drug dealers,” Stephens said, denying any knowledge of the dangerous assaults taking place inside until being informed of it by police officers later.

A total of four family members took the stand to voice their support of Stephens, including his mother and grandmother.

Hart argued his client should receive a lighter sentence because he was not directly involved in the break-ins and assaults inside the two homes.

“He readily admits driving the car,” Hart said. “He did not know what these people were going to do inside these home. He didn’t know they were going to harm people. The fact is he didn’t do these crimes.

“Tygue is not a threat to this community, he’s a good father and a hard worker with a job waiting,” he said.

“He’s remorseful for what he did. I believe in this situation probation would be the appropriate punishment.”

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