WAXAHACHIE — Ellis County Constable Pct. 3 Tyron Davis was found guilty in a court of law Friday afternoon on charges stemming from his election campaign.
Davis submitted his letter of resignation following the verdict.
"I feel that (the verdict) wasn't served by my peers, you know, it was more of the opposite, you know, white," said Davis to the Daily Light in the courtroom after the jury was dismissed. "You know, the majority, and I just don't think it was justice."
When asked if "white" referred to the jury consisting of six Caucasian members, Davis responded, "Absolutely. At least, probably, one Hispanic."
Davis was convicted on six counts of failure to affix his signature to applications on absentee ballots and two counts of falsely identifying as a police officer in Ellis County Court at Law 2. The false identity charges came after Davis used photoshopped pictures that showed his head on the body of a Tarrant County constable on his Facebook page and political flyers.
Davis won the seat in the primary run-off election against incumbent Jimmie Ray held May 24, 2016. He was sworn in on Jan. 3.
After the jury had returned a guilty verdict, Davis accepted a plea agreement with the Ellis County and District Attorney's Office. The agreement states that Davis would be sentenced to two days in jail but given credit for two served and fined a $1,000. He would also have to voluntary and permanently surrender his peace officer license, resign as Ellis Pct. 3 constable, accept the verdict returned by the jury, waive his right to appeal, waive his right to a new trial and pay court costs totaling $2,469.20.
On April 25, Davis knowingly failed to affix his signature, his own name in printed form and/or his address to an application ballot by mail for six individuals. At the time Davis was signing up residents for a mail-in ballot at Renfro Healthcare Center in Waxahachie.
On Dec. 12, 2016, Davis, while engaged in an election campaign for constable for Precinct 3, allegedly identified himself as a commissioned peace officer or a reserve law enforcement officer between March 28 and April 27, 2016. The affidavit for arrest states that Davis allegedly possessed and posted to his Facebook page an altered photo of his head on the body of Michael R. Campbell’s reelection photo, who is a Tarrant County constable. The photo showed Campbell in full law enforcement uniform with a shoulder emblem with the word “constable” and a badge visible on the document.
Before closing arguments began in Ellis County Court at Law No. 2, Judge Gene Calvert Jr. addressed the jury. Calvert told the jury to consider the law and look at all of the evidence carefully.
Ellis County Assistant District Attorney Nicole Dempsey was the first to address the jury. Dempsey stated that this case is about Davis not taking personal responsibility for his actions.
Dempsey said multiple people identified Davis as the person in the photoshopped photo posted to Facebook on April 4, 2016. She added that Davis admitted to investigators that this was his page and that he had not been certified as a law enforcement officer since 2007.
Dempsey remarked that Davis took it a step further and passed out a flyer with the edited photo on it.
“On April 25, 2016, you have this political flyer. This flyer speaks for itself," Dempsey said. "He took the time to print it out and handed out it out with the photoshopped photo."
Dempsey told the court that witnesses were asked by investigators if they thought Davis was a police officer and they told them they did because of the flier.
Dempsey then addressed the charges related to the mail-in ballots.
“People at the elections office told him how to fill out the form. If he had questions why didn’t he go back ask? A reasonable inference is that he though nobody would look,” Dempsey said. “Mr. Davis did the wrong thing when nobody was watching."
Davis’ attorney, Theresa Peel, then addressed the jury and said Davis ran for office because he wanted to serve and wanted to do a good job. He had no intention of breaking the law but just made an honest mistake.
Peel said Davis was approached by staff members from Renfro Healthcare Center to help residents who wanted to cast their vote.
“The trained election register was not going to help these people vote. These people had a history of voting and now they are dependent on others. Tyron Davis was helping them to exercise their civic duty,” Peel stated. “Tyron Davis had no intent to violate the law.”
Peel noted that the elections office had worked with people in the past with similar stations, but they did not provide Davis the chance to fix his mistake. Instead, they singled him out and assumed that he was guilty.
“If Tyron wanted to commit fraud he could have gone down to the cemetery,” Peel said. “He was working with living people to help them exercise their right to vote.”
Peel noted that the directions on the mail-in ballots were confusing and anyone could have easily made a mistake.
Peel also told the jury that Davis did not create the flier and the edited image was created by somebody else. She added his Davis’ wife stated when they went to Renfro they didn’t even pass out flyers.
Assistant District Attorney Nicole Crain spoke to the jury about Davis’ character.
“I am asking you to hold him responsible for his actions,” Crain said. “He was running in April 2016 for constable, who is someone that is sworn to uphold the laws of the state of Texas.”
Crain told the jury that Davis was told twice by staff at the Ellis County Elections Office how to fill out the mail-in ballot form. She added that form listed the consequences of it if not filled out properly.
“It (the form) says if you help in any way that you have to fill out a certain portion even if you mail it. There is no doubt that he was told what to do. This box 11A on the form is about protecting voting integrity. There are a lot of reasons to sign that. There is a reason why Mr. Davis went to a nursing home and is because they were vulnerable.”
Crain stated, in addition to the flier, the case is just as much about care, custody and control.
“It doesn’t matter who created it,” Crain remarked. “Residents told you that Tyron Davis presented them with a flier.”
Crain asked the jury to uphold the integrity of the electoral process and the way to do it is to find Davis guilty.
The Ellis County Commissioners will appoint a replacement constable at a later date.
Portions of this article first appeared in the Daily Light on Dec. 25, 2016.