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Jeffery Found Guilty Of Murder, Aggravated Assault In 2021 Cooper Gas Station Shooting

Robert Clevon Jeffery has been found guilty of the murder of 35-year-old Damien Damon Wiley of Cooper and aggravated assault of 22-year-old Saquan Harrion Reynolds on Aug. 29, 2021, at Cooper Mart on West Dallas Street in Cooper, Texas. The jury was given the charge and began deliberating punishment for Jeffery around 10:45 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 15.

Robert Clevon Jeffery (2021 jail photo)

The trial of Jeffery began with jury selection in Delta County, then, the determination to move the trial to the 8th Judicial District Courtroom in Hopkins County. Assistant District Attorneys Zach Blackmon and Matt Harris are prosecuting the cases; Clay Johnson is Jeffery’s attorney.

Opening arguments began shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, followed immediately with testimony by the store clerk working when the shootings occurred and four videos showing activity outside and at the store during and immediately following the shootings that resulted in Damien Wiley’s death and injury to Saquan Reynolds.

Testimony continued Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 13 and 14, before both sides rested and asked the jury to determine guilt or innocence. The jury was reported to have reached their verdict after about 1 1/2 hour of deliberations. Jeffery reportedly opted to testify during the guilt innocence phase of his trial. He did not, however, testify during the punishment phase.

The state rested their case in the punishment phase of the trial, and Johnson called Jeffery’s nephew, 31-year-old Tommy Walker Jr. of Cooper, to the stand to testify around 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 15. Walker is also the cousin of Damien Wiley.

Walker testified that Jeffery over the past 8-9 months prior to the incident at Cooper Mart in his opinion had turned his life around, working at the same place he works. Walker said his uncle was getting his life back on track, going from nothing to having a home, two cars and had custody of his four children. Jefferies’ children, including his now 14-year-old daughter who was inside the Cooper Mart when the shooting occurred, had 8 years previously been placed in a group home in the foster care system when their mom passed away because their father was in jail, he testified during questioning Thursday.

Walker said he was aware of a conflict between his uncle, Wiley and Reynolds, but was never part of it and had nothing to do with any of it. In fact, he admitted under questioning by Johnson that he’d asked his cousin and uncle to leave his home during a wake previously because he did not want their conflict resulting in an altercation in his home.

The 31-year-old Cooper man said he and his girlfriend of 11 years, who reside in the same home with their five children, during that 8-9 months prior to he shooting tried to help single father Robert Jeffery in any way they could, helping him watch his four children, making sure they got to and from school, allowing them to stay at their home overnight if needed.

Walker took in his uncle Robert’s four children following the shooting last year, and said they will continue to raise the children and see to their wellbeing regardless of the sentence his uncle receives, just as they care for their children. He takes them to see their father for visitation weekly. He said his uncle asks his children questions about their wellbeing and activities, checking that the 14-year-old has her inhaler with her, letting her know his concern about her asthma.

Robert Jeffery’s 14-year-old has received counseling at both Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center and at her school, and is currently “doing good, an AB Honor Roll student. Thus, Walker asked that no one in the legal community talk to the high school freshman or caller to testify, because he did not want his uncle’s daughter to have to relive the experience at the gas station in 2021. Walker said he thinks of his 14-year-old cousin as if she is his own daughter. He said he’s going to make sure she and her sibling graduate from high school and go to college, if that’s the path they take.

Both sides had rested their cases in the punishment phase of the trial and gave closing arguments around 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.

In his closing argument, attorney Clay Johnson asked the jury to consider Robert Clevon Jeffery’s age and to recognize that the 48-year-old had been “provoked over and over and over,” causing him to snap on Aug. 29, 2021, in front of Cooper Mart. Johnson said he’s not sure why Mr. Jeffery was bullied, why 22-year-old Saquan Reynolds picked on him, why they picked at each other. He asked the jury to consider that his client snapped that day, committing an act of sudden passion.

A crime of passion verdict, according to the law, reduces the charge by one letter of the law. That’d reduce the murder charge from a first-degree felony to a second-degree felony offense. However, Jeffery has a prior felony conviction, which would normally enhance a charge one letter of the law. That’d enhance the minimum potential range of punishment by 10 years if the jury does not determine the murder was a crime of passion, 8th Judicial District Judge Eddie Northcutt explained Thursday when instructing the jury regarding the charges and potential punishment for the charges.

Johnson further argued in his closing statement that the defendant had not gone to the station with the intent to kill Mr. Wiley, and asked the jury to “show Mr. Jeffery a little mercy and grace.” Johnson asked the jury to consider sentencing Jeffery to murder, as a crime of passion.

In his closing argument, ADA Blackmon asked the jury not to be swayed by emotion, but to consider the whole picture. He said the defendant was just as much a bully as he was bullied. He argued shooting death of Wiley was not sudden, because Jeffery had previously attained the firearm. In order for the offense to be consider a crime of passion, Blackmon said, the law requires the defense to prove the offense to have been directly caused by the person killed. He contends the there was no evidence presented to support a sudden passion defense, that the defendant himself testified that Damien Wiley never said any words to him at the gas station, only packed his pack of cigarettes against his hand, which would not render a person of ordinary temper incapable of ordinary reaction. He even noted Jeffery’s daughter even questioned his actions on Aug. 29, 2022, pointing out that they could have just driven away.

Blackmon argued that at the end of the day the murder case boils down to Robert Jeffery shooting Damien Wiley in the face over a fist fight that happened a few months before the shooting. He asked them to consider what might happened to the next person Robert Jeffery has a problem with if given a light sentence, and how that would endanger the lives of others. The ADA asked the jury to consider sentencing Jeffery to life in prison.

The jury was still deliberating punishment during the noon hour Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. If they determine the murder was a crime of passion, the possible range of punishment for Jeffery is 5 to 99 years or life in prison, and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000. If the murder is not ruled by the jury as a crime of passion, the minimum punishment would be enhanced (due to the prior felony conviction) to 15 years and the maximum 99 years or life in prison, with an option of a fine up to $10,000 for the murder of Damien Wiley. A life sentence is considered 60 year.

Based on current parole laws, the 48-year-old cooper man would be required to serve half of his sentence or 30 years, whichever is less, before becoming eligible to be considered for early parole, Judge Northcutt explained.

Crime of passion is not an issue for consideration on the aggravated assault conviction. The jury was given the option to sentence Jeffery to 5 to 99 years or life in prison, with an optional fine of up to $10,000.

No verdict had been reached in the punishment phase of Robert Jeffery’s trial during the lunch hour Thursday, according to court reports.

Author: KSST Contributor

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