EAST TEXAS (KYTX) - On Wednesday, February 6, 2013, Oliver O'neal Manuel, a 41 year old formerly of Athens, was sentenced to 15 years confinement in prison for robbery. The punishment was ordered after a sentencing hearing in the 173rd Judicial District Court with Judge Dan Moore presiding.
Assistant District Attorney Justin Weiner prosecuted the case on behalf of Scott McKee's District Attorney's Office.
On August 6, 2011, Manuel entered into the Wal-Mart store in Athens. He was observed by Loss Prevention Employees attempting to conceal various items from the store in his clothing. As he attempted to leave the store, without paying for the merchandise, he was approached and confronted by three individuals identifying themselves as employees. Manuel denied any wrong doing and continued to try to exit the store. When asked not to leave, Manuel pulled out a knife with a box-cutter blade causing the employees to jump back in fear for their safety while Manuel escaped out the door.
Manuel testified in the hearing and asked that the judge place him on probation. He blamed his actions on a drug problem though he had been treated in several in-patient facilities for crack cocaine use. He also admitted that he even had used crack cocaine while in the rehab facilities.
Manuel had also been involved in an incident at the Brookshire's in Athens earlier in the year. He was once again caught shoplifting. When questioned by members of Athens Police Department he became aggressive and violent. He swung at an officer and was ultimately tazed in front of the store.
In closing arguments, Weiner asked that Manuel be sentenced to a prison term and argued to the court: "[T]his is a far cry from a probation case. The defendant is a threat to our community that has an extensive criminal history. Allowing him to be on our streets would put the people of Henderson County in jeopardy."