(ROCKWALL, TX — March 4, 2019) Last week, a Rockwall County jury convicted Robert Conrad Etheridge, 57, of the offense of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Felon. After the jury returned a verdict of guilty, Etheridge was sentenced to twenty-five (25) years in prison.
Jurors heard testimony that on November 21, 2017, Rockwall Police Department Officer Wener Perez stopped the vehicle driven by the defendant for traffic violations and arrested him for driving with an invalid license and no insurance. During a search incident to arrest, Officer Perez found marijuana in the car and a black Taurus handgun in the center console. Perez also determined that the defendant had numerous previous felony convictions in California and Texas, including one just a few months prior to his arrest.
During the jury trial, the Etheridge took the stand and claimed that the firearm did not belong to him. However, prosecutors were able to prove by other evidence that he was known to carry handguns prior to his arrest, including the specific gun found in his vehicle. During cross examination, Etheridge eventually conceded that he knew that the gun was in the car and that he was in fact guilty of the offense.
Rockwall County ADA Jeff Hill was the lead prosecutor on the case. “This was a solid collaboration between the Rockwall County District Attorney’s Office and the Rockwall and Lewisville Police Departments in removing a violent felon as well as stolen firearms from our streets,” he said.
Rockwall County District Attorney Kenda Culpepper added, “While I believe that a person has the right to carry a handgun for protection and under certain circumstances, there are very good reasons why Texas law does not allow a convicted felon to carry one in his car. I appreciate the hard work of law enforcement and the jury’s quick verdict of guilt in this case.”
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