DA to seek death penalty against Elders

·3 min read

Jul. 15—Johnson County District Attorney Dale Hanna on Thursday announced that the state will be seeking the death penalty against Jerry Don Elders, who is charged with capital murder for the death of a Burleson woman.

Under a capital murder charge, the district attorney has the option to seek either life in prison without parole or the death penalty if convicted.

Elders, 39, pleaded not guilty to capital murder and other charges during his arraignment in the 413th District Court.

Elders has also been indicted on charges of possession of a controlled substance, burglary of a habitation and theft of a firearm as well as aggravated assault of a public servant and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

After being led into the courtroom, Elders briefly conferred with his attorney Bob Gill and Miles Brissette but otherwise sat quietly during the brief arraignment hearing.

No date has been set for trial. Elders remains jailed at the Johnson County Jail in lieu of more than $2 million in bonds.

Johnson County last sought the death penalty in 2012 when Fort Worth resident Mark Anthony Soliz was found guilty of the 2010 shooting death of a 61-year-old woman in her home near Godley. The state executed Soliz in 2019.

Elder's charges stem from the April 14 shooting of a Burleson police officer and the subsequent shooting death of a woman.

Burleson officer Joshua Lott, at 4:06 a.m. that day, conducted a traffic stop on a Mazda Tribute driven by Elders for a defective taillight.

As Lott approached the car a woman in the passenger seat leaned back at which time Elders displayed and fired a gun three times striking Lott in his chest and neck. Rescue workers transported Lott to John Peter Smith Hospital where he was treated and released the following day.

Burleson detectives located the Mazda driven by Elders later the same day

Johnson County Dispatch later that same morning received word of a Toyota Tacoma owned by Burleson resident Robin Waddell.

The caller told dispatch that the Tacoma had driven through the rear parking lot gate of the Joshua Police Department and that a woman was laying near the police department's back door and appeared to be injured.

That caller and another witness told police the Tacoma left the scene driven by a man.

Rescue workers transported Waddell to Texas Health Huguley Fort Worth South Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 9:30 a.m. that morning. She received gunshots wounds to her upper right arm and another to her back, according to reports.

Gainesville police took Elders into custody later that same day.

Elders, during a subsequent police interview, stated that he was the one who shot Lott, according to reports.

Elders, after his car caught fire, fled on foot towards a wooded area and located a feed truck on Waddell's property, which he entered and fell asleep in.

When confronted by Waddell later that morning, Elders pointed a gun at her and demanded the keys to the truck, according to reports.

After Waddell told Elders she could not find the keys to the truck he demanded that she drive him in her Tacoma and "drop him off somewhere or take him somewhere," according to reports.

Waddell, while driving on Main Street in Joshua, "intentionally" drove her Tacoma through the closed gates of the Joshua Police Department, according to reports. Elders later told police that he panicked and shot Waddell twice as she was getting out of the truck, after which he slid into the driver's seat and fled the scene.

Police later recovered a Smith and Wesson .38 Special 5-shot revolver from the front driver's seat floorboard area of Waddell's truck, according to reports.

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