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Murderers and drug addicts on the Cherokee County payroll

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Michael Dashawn Harris, sentenced to life (with parole) for the murder of Jacksonville, TX resident Faye Bell Harris.

Time served: 6 years.

(Source: Jacksonville Daily Progress, January 22, 2004)

“Harris faces competency hearing.”

The capital murder case of Michael Dashawn Harris is scheduled to get underway next week – in a preliminary sense – with a hearing to determine his competency to stand trial.

Judge Dwight Phifer, who oversees the state’s 2nd Judicial District, has also ordered that jury selection for the trial begin on either Feb. 9 or 17.

Police officers arrested Harris, 44, on Aug. 4, 2003, after he went to his mother-in-law’s house and allegedly shot and killed his estranged wife, Faye Harris. Harris was also charged with retaliation.

In Texas, any time a murder is committed in the course of committing certain felonies – such as retaliation – a person may be charged with capital murder and be eligible for the death penalty.

Cherokee County District Attorney Elmer Beckworth has not said if he will seek the death penalty in the Harris case. (Courtesy: Daily Progress)

After trying to burn down their house and later murdering his ex-wife in front of their daughter, Michael Dashawn Harris passed away 6 years into a life sentence arranged by District Attorney Elmer Beckworth. The version of events promulgated by the folks in Cherokee County and the district attorney is that the murder was a result of lax felony bond requirements and that prosecutors followed the letter of the law. After all that money was spent on Beckworth traveling to Austin to ostensibly champion Faye Bell Harris as a victim’s rights advocate and to grandstand, Cherokee County newspapers did not contest Michael Harris’ possible early release to the Parole Board.

They are confident the ignorant public has been fooled completely in this case; they convinced the Harris family that they were not responsible for allowing a drug informant on the streets after repeatedly arresting him for escalating domestic violence. What is Michael Harris’ value to the district attorney’s office?

Michael Harris was initially arrested on a Cherokee County warrant by the Tyler Police Department on January 27, 2003. He was transported back to Cherokee County where he was charged with arson/attempt to cause bodily injury in a house of worship. He made bail and continued to repeatedly attack his estranged ex-wife while on felony bond.

Michael Dashawn Harris (Courtesy: Smith County, TX)

Oddly enough, Michael D. Harris was not just charged with a homicide; he pleaded to murdering a “peace officer or fireman”  and attempting to burn down this so-called “place of worship.”  To the district attorney’s office, the Harris household was a religious safe house strategically located in the city of Jacksonville’s northern drug corridor. Hence Elmer Beckworth charged Michael Harris with murdering a “peace officer,” [the victim Mrs. Harris], i.e. the other informant living in the house and cooperating with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department. Faye Harris worked as a therapy technician at the Rusk State Hospital according to the Cherokeean Herald. Did Michael Harris murder their CI or was he charged under another one of Cherokee County’s made up statutes?

(Source: Cheorkeean April 30, 1998 Sec. A, p. 7)

Sources:  Criminal Docket Case 15388: CAPITAL MURDER OF A PEACE OFFICER OR FIREMAN THE STATE OF TEXAS vs HARRIS, MICHAEL DASHAWN. Filed 09/22/2003 –Disposition: 10/18/2004 Conviction-guilty plea or nolo cont-no jury.

Case 15354: MURDER; Case 15387: ASSAULT CAUSES BODILY INJURY FAMILY VIOLENCE ENHANCED; Case 15250: ARSON BODILY INJURY/DEATH IN PLACE OF WORSHIP. 2nd District Court, District Clerk, Cherokee County, TX.

The Michael Harris case never went to trial; he pleaded No Contest to the 2003 homicide after his in-and-out rehab stints at the Rusk State Hospital. His bail was set and reset multiple times by the Cherokee County court system. Faye Harris’ calls to the district court to have her ex-husband locked up for his escalating domestic violence were ignored. Thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent to convince the public otherwise.

Are residents beginning to realize the depth and breadth of public corruption going on under their noses and why their municipalities’ police forces have dried up? Where has all the taxpayer money for public safety gone? Exactly how is the District Attorney’s Law Enforcement Fund from seizures being spent?

Taxpayer money is spent subsidizing the families and allies of the same group of people who have been draining Cherokee County dry for decades. Cherokee County is a family-operated criminal enterprise and along with their familial kickbacks, their confidential informants have bankrupted the city and county coffers. According to CBS News, the towns of Wells and Alto, TX have both had their entire police forces furloughed as their city councils do some fiduciary housecleaning. The tiny town of Alto, TX is making up for a $185,000 budget deficit with the layoffs. (Source: CBS News, Tiny Texas town lays off entire police force)

For the first time in modern history, these one stoplight towns have done a little fiscal oversight and discovered that their city services are in the RED. Too much taxpayer money has been allocated for personal use which includes paying law enforcement and their families to illegally monitor the law-abiding public. They have decided to cut their city law enforcement and have overextended sheriff’s deputies respond to their emergencies. The local Cherokeean Herald reports Alto, TX (population 1150) had five officers on payroll for nighttime alarm patrol in a one-horse town.

Looking for an oral history of Cherokee County, Texas? 

Chapter 1: A history of corruption that cannot be rewritten or ignored.

Former Alto police chiefs’ salaries have ranged from $16K to over $100K, depending on who the applicant was related to, even though the city’s population has remained at or below 1100 for the last 30 years. Their turnover has been frequent, controversial and bitter at times. Relatives of the former district attorney have framed past police chiefs to run them out of town and move themselves into a coveted salaried position. (Source: Cherokeean) Former Alto mayor Garwin Baugh tells the Jacksonville Daily Progress in 1992 how he and Police Chief Tom Griffith were targeted for openly discussing the coverup of a murdered feed store owner. (Source: Daily Progress May 1, 1992)

Chief Griffith was ousted and the district attorney’s investigator took his job to make sure the capital murder conviction in the case was not overturned. All public discussions of the case were quelled. The conviction was eventually overturned and an innocent defendant facing life in prison was released on time served.  The case was The State vs. Terry Watkins.

Elmer Beckworth represented the State at Watkins’ appeal; his job was to thwart any and all evidentiary review hearings that proved Terry Watkins’ innocence. The victim’s life insurance was used among other things to pay State witnesses for the prosecutor, former district attorney Charles Holcomb. Taxpayer money has always been spent to keep the family clan in office and against whistleblowers. Proceeds from insurance payouts also come in handy for hush money.


Former District Attorney Charles Holcomb takes money to hire witnesses (Source: Daily Progress August 23, 1990).

During this current police furlough, the sheriff’s department and district attorney’s office will have to rely solely on their good ol’ boy/ bitty network to keep watch over the southern part of the county. Even more taxpayer money will be allocated for illegal phone drops, jury plants, ‘anonymous’ tipsters and other reserve officers’ clandestine eavesdropping.

Every week the local newspapers report the status of merchant sales tax revenues as if it were a true signal of the economic status of the county. Following their logic, these little towns rake in the sales tax but cannot afford to have police protection? Think again.

The only investigative technique utilized by law enforcement in this area is illegal phone tapping of its residents. At least since the 1920’s they have enlisted their family members to listen to and record as many perfectly legal telephone and innocuous business conversations as possible throughout the county. In their minds there is no need for an active police force in rural areas because their 3rd generation phone tapping network is intact and operating at 100%.

Informants provide routine drug busts to justify county and state level investigators and their salaries, while taxpayer money is pooled to help pay these CIs’ house bills and keep them in the county. Instead of being ostracized, murderers and drug addicts are on the dole in Cherokee County. When it comes to politicking, these informants provide pabulum for district attorney’s and sheriff investigators. That is where the money has gone. Tax revenue goes to keep these salaried parasites in office and against any and all who challenge them. Traveling public beware if you use the local telephone systems or post offices.

No need to dial 9-1-1 folks; they know about crime before it even takes place. Usually they are the perpetrators.

Sales tax reciprocity from the city to the county level will cease to exist until Cherokee County voters are brave enough to do some judiciary housecleaning. Meanwhile, Cherokee County taxpayer dollars are still being spent on prosecuting Robert Fox for filing a Notice to Sue in Smith County; investigating the Precinct 3 Commissioner for her bonafide due diligence; and decades of private property improvements by county officials in bed with the district attorney. The entire county, much less the small towns of Alto and Wells, TX, can no longer afford the public corruption that has been going on for decades.

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2 Responses

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  1. About tiny towns and their sales tax revenue: I haven’t shopped in the Alto pharmacy in years and years because whenever I went in there it was like pulling teeth to get a receipt out of that bunch. The last straw for me years ago was when I put my selections on the counter and when the employee rang up my purchases, I paid her with cash. The receipt was right there poking up out of the cash register and I waited for her to tear it off and hand it to me or put it in my sack. When she didn’t voluntarily give it to me, I told her that I need my receipt. She looked very irritated and insulted, then called out to another employee “she wants a receipt”. That other woman called the same thing out to another woman. All three women looked very annoyed with me. I told the woman I gave my $30 to that I didn’t want their merchandise anymore if they weren’t going to give me my receipt. She called out to the other two women that I said I want a refund if I don’t get a receipt. Only then did the owner who had been watching and listening the entire time, nodded and told my saleswoman to give me a receipt. What’s up with that? Felt like sales tax fraud to me. So I never went back. Instead, I spend my money in stores where they give me a receipt without my having to insist on it.
    They must be pocketing all the sales tax around there and not reporting it to Austin, making the place dry up financially.
    I know for a fact because I saw the pharmacists and their employees around there never voluntarily give a simple SALES RECIEPT.

    Alto Texas shopper

    07/17/2011 at 10:05 PM

    • That’s what they do alright. Tax cheating and insurance/Medicaid fraud is a staple of the Cherokee County economy. When the kickbacks stop, they have to cut their law enforcement.


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