Editor: Shannon Cottongame
April 6, 2022
A Hill County District Court jury held a five-day trial beginning Monday, March 21, and found defendant Josephus Demetrius Garrett guilty on two counts of burglary of a habitation.
The jury then assessed his punishment at 95 years in prison in one case and 15 years in prison for the other. Assistant District Attorney Ken Dies presented the case along with Assistant District Attorney Sherri Wagner, and District Judge Lee Harris presided.
Garrett, a 38-year-old Whitney resident, was alleged to have committed two separate burglaries on the same night in 2019. The first burglary involved him entering the home of a victim he knew, causing damages in excess of $2,500, including destroying a refrigerator, furniture, walls, and even throwing dogs in their crates out of a window.
The victim in that case was brought back from prison, where she was serving a 20-year drug sentence, in order to testify before being returned to prison. Garrett received a 15-year sentence for that offense.
The second burglary involved a home a few miles away that was randomly chosen by the defendant. The shirtless defendant climbed a fence and kicked in the back door of the home in the early morning hours, where he was confronted by the female homeowner, whose husband was away on a business trip.
The victim had heard the man yelling outside before he broke into the home, and she had her two daughters hide. Garrett then reportedly demanded a glass of water and a shirt while the woman of the house screamed at him to get out of her home.
The victim’s 12-year-old daughter, who was hailed as a hero by District Attorney Mark Pratt, heard the defendant and her mother shouting in the kitchen, snuck out of the closet where she and her sister were hiding, and entered the kitchen. There, she grabbed a knife from the butcher block and stabbed the intruder twice in his back.
The victim’s 15-year-old daughter called 9-1-1 and family members for help, and the victim’s brother-in-law and father-in-law quickly arrived and held Garrett at gunpoint until the sheriff’s office arrived.
The defense claimed that the unlawful entry only amounted to a misdemeanor criminal trespass, which is what he was charged with by law enforcement. However, Pratt presented the case to the grand jury as burglary of a habitation, and Garrett, who had previously been to prison for robbery, was indicted on the burglary charge.
The trial jury agreed unanimously with the arguments of assistant district attorneys Dies and Wagner, convicting Garrett and sentencing him to 95 years in prison after also hearing moving testimony in the punishment phase from the victim’s husband.
Pratt thanked the jury for their careful deliberations and stated, “Hill County citizens have shown once again that home invasions will not be tolerated, and our families will be protected from such predators through lengthy prison sentences.”