DA: Prescription pill peddler punished

Special to The Highlander

On Friday, March 1, 2019, Judge Evan Stubbs sentenced Lucio Roy Atkinson, 47, to 80 years in prison for possessing 244 tablets of clonazepam with the intent to deliver the pills to others.

Clonazepam is a drug used to treat anxiety among other medical uses. Atkinson had 11 prior felony convictions and 16 prior misdemeanor convictions.

Atkinson’s jury trial began on Feb. 19. Assistant District Attorney Erin Toolan and District Attorney Sonny McAfee prosecuted the case, and Atkinson was represented by Terrence Marsh of Georgetown.

Evidence presented at trial showed that a DPS trooper stopped Atkinson for a traffic violation in the Spicewood area in January 2017.

After conducting an investigation, the trooper found 244 tablets of Clonazepam, many other illegal prescription pills, injectable steroids, and approximately an ounce of marijuana in Atkinson’s vehicle.

Evidence further established that Atkinson was a drug dealer in the area, according to court testimony.

Jack Schumacher, a retired Drug Enforcement Agent and current chief investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, testified that he reviewed text messages retrieved from Atkinson’s phone for the 15-day period prior to Atkinson’s arrest.

In that small segment Schumacher said he was able to identify at least 19 buyers of different drugs from Atkinson as well as 3 probable suppliers. Schumacher also testified that Atkinson was dealing in steroids, illegal prescription drugs, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine.

After the jury found Atkinson guilty he chose to have punishment assessed by the judge, the prosecutors presented evidence of Atkinson’s extensive criminal record and showed that Atkinson had used methamphetamine and committed other crimes even while awaiting trial.

Members of Atkinson’s family testified on his behalf that he was a different person since his arrest and asked the court to allow Atkinson to get drug treatment.

Due to Atkinson’s numerous prior convictions, the possible range of punishment was a minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum of 99 years or life in prison.

Before sentencing Atkinson, Judge Stubbs addressed Atkinson and his family members who were present in the courtroom, saying “The problem is we have eleven prior felonies and a bunch of prior misdemeanors and [Atkinson] has had as many chances as anyone I've ever seen.” The judge continued, “He’s a repeat drunk driver, He’s a thief. He’s a person who evades arrest. He’s a reckless driver. He’s an addict. And, most importantly, he’s a drug dealer.” Judge Stubbs stated that he felt terrible for Atkinson’s family, but “Roy has made his choices and that’s the situation that we’re in.” Judge Stubbs then sentenced Atkinson to 80 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Assistant District Attorney Erin Toolan said she was pleased with the guilty verdict by the jury and the judge’s sentence.

“As the judge said at sentencing, most of our cases – whether drug possession, assaults, or child endangerment – involve the use of drugs,” said Toolan. “So people who sell drugs in this community are the cause or at least the catalyst for a lot of pain and sorrow when others are victimized by drug abusers.”

District Attorney McAfee agreed with Toolan and added, “Three weeks ago, a jury in Llano put a man in prison for life for dealing methamphetamine. And in this case the judge gave the defendant 80 years for dealing drugs. I hope every drug dealer and would-be drug dealer gets the message today: As a community we won’t put up with the spread of this poison.”

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