Thankfully, shooter didn’t shoot straight

November 9, 2013

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When the facts of what happened on the morning of Jan. 21 in the Spanish Trail subdivision began to unfold, I started wondering what kind of a monster would commit such horrible crimes.

Was this some sort of big-time gangster out of the Metroplex, or maybe a hardened prison inmate who escaped and was desperate to avoid a return to prison?

Not exactly.

Fallon Wayne Hart, in his own words, was “under the influence of many different drugs” when he fired 21 rounds from an AR-15 rifle toward officers and later held the barrel of the weapon to the throat of a senior citizen after invading his home.

On Oct. 28 – the day the jury was selected – the 36-year-old Kerens resident decided to plead guilty. No deals were offered by the prosecution, according to District Attorney Rob Christian.

CRIMINAL HISTORY

During Hart’s sentencing trial, which began Oct. 29 and concluded two days later with the jury’s 99-year sentence being announced by Judge Ralph Walton, Christian and Assistant D.A. Patrick Berry spelled out his criminal history. His crime log wasn’t that of a “big-time” criminal after all. In fact, he had never been convicted of a felony.

Christian informed the jury that Hart had “at least” 14 prior misdemeanor convictions in Texas for offenses that included assault, resisting arrest, drug possession, obstruction of justice and DWI. Hart also had arrests in Colorado, Tennessee, Virginia, Indiana and Mississippi, Christian said.

When Granbury Police Sergeant Michael Holly – supported on the early-morning suspicious vehicle call by fellow police officer Zac Anderson and Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dustin Holden – found out Hart was wanted on a Taylor County warrant for unlawful carrying of a weapon, he asked the suspect to get out of his car. Instead of complying, Hart shifted his vehicle into drive and barreled across South Morgan Street into Spanish Trail. The three officers pursued Hart, each taking different routes on the subdivision’s winding roads. Anderson located the vehicle at a dead end.

STANDING IN THE DARK

The officer testified that he saw Hart’s female companion – later identified in testimony as a heroin addict – standing in the dark near the rear of the Pontiac that Hart had been driving.

“She was standing there looking at me,” Anderson said, noting that at that moment he figured Hart had fled on foot.

But before the officer could get out of his vehicle to start looking for Hart, the Chevy Tahoe was showered with 19 of the 21 rounds that were discharged from the semi-automatic rifle Hart had.

“I started hearing pops,” Anderson testified, describing what the prosecution called an ambush. “I didn’t know what to think. Then I saw my windshield start to break. It happened so fast, I couldn’t think about returning fire. I put my head down. My whole body was numb. My body would twitch or jerk as if I was being hit.”

Anderson also told the jury that he and his wife had a baby on the way.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it,” said Anderson, who amazingly did not suffer any significant injuries. “Some probably call it a miracle. I definitely think it was.”

Anderson had only a minor nick on his right thigh.

“I was pretty lucky,” he testified, adding that he was given a couple of weeks off and received counseling through the DPS.

The couple whose nearby home was invaded also took the witness stand and gave equally stunning testimony.

The male homeowner, who turned 80 years of age in May, slowly walked to the stand using a cane.

He told the jury that they were still trying to make sense of the noise of breaking glass they had heard from another room when his wife said, “Oh my God, there’s a man.” He continued describing the shocking moment by saying, “(Hart) came in and stuck (the rifle) right here (pointing to his own neck).”

The man said Hart dragged him into the living room area by his arthritic fingers before taking the keys to the pickup and speeding off – then pausing at the corner to fire two more shots toward the officers who were then approaching on foot. Hart was captured a couple of hours later, near a creekbed after he had crashed the pickup through a fence and in another neighbor’s backyard.

The 80-year-old man said that as of Oct. 15, he and his wife have been living in their home in the normally quiet neighborhood for 28 years. But things are different now.

The 77-year-old lady of the house said, “I haven’t had a comfortable night in my house” since the incident.

“(My wife) woke up crying this morning, crying in her sleep,” her husband testified. “I have cried out and woke myself up.”

Defense attorney Richard Hattox called on Daniel Lowrance, a psychiatrist from Arlington who did extensive testing on Hart, to testify.

Lowrance testified that Hart’s brain has abnormalities possibly causing an increase in aggression and a lack of behavior control. Lowrance also claimed that Hart told him he had been sexually and physically abused as a youth, and experienced hallucinations.

DIDN’T BUY IT

But the jury didn’t buy any of the excuses, and Hart won’t be eligible for parole until he’s in his mid-60s.

The criminal in this case didn’t turn out to be a big badass with an infamous wanted poster hanging in every post office. He was just a pathetic, 5-11, 185-pound dope addict with an allegedly defective brain who happened to get his hands on a deadly weapon.

And fortunately for the sake of Zac Anderson, his family and the entire community, evidently his aim was more than just a little shaky.

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