A Montague County jury took just over an hour Friday to find suspended Clay County Sheriff Jeffrey Lyde guilty of official oppression and tampering with evidence.
The charges carry maximum penalties of one year in prison and $1,000 fine.
Although Lyde was charged with oppression by holding two Henrietta people in jail illegally in July 2021, the trial dealt only with the case of the man, Landon Goad.
Special prosecutor Staley Heatly said in closing arguments that Lyde thought he was above the law in keeping Landon Goad in jail and later lied to cover is actions.
“He was willing to tell lies large and small,” Heatly said. “His reputation for truthfulness is in tatters.”
Lead defense attorney Robert Estrada pointed out Lyde was out of town the weekend Goad and girlfriend Sarah Johnson were arrested and they would have been released if the justice of the peace had written an order of release.
Estrada also suggested politics was involved and Lyde could not get any help from county legal officials. He told jurors to consider only what Lyde could have known at the time events were unfolding.
"It's not fair to convict somebody by hindsight," Estrada said.
Defense attorney Randall Moore said they would appeal the decision.
"We're disappointed, but we're not done fighting," he said.
In this case, the judge will be making the determination of sentencing, not the jury.
Lyde's sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 10.
Under Texas law, a peace officer loses license upon conviction, meaning Lyde can no longer be sheriff upon final conviction.
He was was temporarily suspended from office in February on unrelated allegations of sexual harassment of some female employees.
The charges alleged Lyde held Goad and Johnson longer than the law allowed without charges being filed against them. They also alleged he concealed records related to the case.
The charges against Lyde are Class A misdemeanors which carry a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail and $4,000 fines if he is convicted. Because he is an employee of the county, Clay County is picking up his legal costs.
This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: Suspended sheriff Lyde found guilty of official oppression