From the Parker County District Attorney’s office:
A 34-year-old Fort Worth man who insisted upon representing himself in court was convicted of possessing methamphetamine and fraudulent possession of identifying information and assessed a maximum sentence of two years in a state jail facility and $20,000 in fines in a case that concluded in Parker County district court Thursday.
On Tuesday, Benjamin Tyron Jenkins told District Judge Craig Towson that he wanted to fire his second court-appointed attorney and act as his own attorney, according to Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain, who tried the case for the prosecution with Assistant District Attorney Abby Placke. Despite lengthy admonishments from the judge, both orally and in writing, Jenkins persisted and was permitted to handle his case himself.
“I think Mr. Jenkins was just a difficult, unrealistic client for the two lawyers he had representing him, both of whom were excellent attorneys,” Swain said. “To his credit, Mr. Jenkins was polite throughout the trial, but he was not able to effectively do the job of an attorney in cross-examining witnesses, making objections, or in arguing the case to the jury. Like Abraham Lincoln said, ‘He who represents himself has a fool of a client.’ I have only seen a few people represent themselves on felony charges in my career and it has never gone well for them.”
Jurors deliberated for six minutes before finding Jenkins guilty of both charges and about 15 minutes before they set his punishment at the maximum permissible sentence.
The case began on September 2, 2016 when a Parker County Sheriff’s deputy was following a vehicle that was driving around 20 m.p.h. on Midway Road around 1 a.m. for about two miles and eventually stopped of its own accord in the middle of the road, according to trial testimony and a video introduced during the trial. A woman got out of the vehicle, approached the deputy, then turned around and was returning to her car.
She and Jenkins, who was the passenger, both told the deputy that they had come from a ”game room” in River Oaks and were looking for Jenkins’ girlfriend’s house to get some prenatal vitamins that they were going to sell.
“That was a pretty fishy story in the middle of the night in an area that had recently had quite a few burglaries and thefts, so the deputy’s suspicions were naturally raised,” Placke said.
After the driver granted him consent to search, the deputy found methamphetamine in a manila envelope with Jenkins name on it which was sitting right next to him and more methamphetamine in a pill bottle also in the vehicle. A pat down of Jenkins’ clothes conducted with his consent yielded two wallets in his pants pockets containing a driver’s license, three social security cards, a credit card, various pawn tickets and debit cards, all bearing names other than Jenkins.
The man whose driver’s license Jenkins had told jurors that he did not know Jenkins and that his wallet had been lost or stolen some months before.
During the punishment phase of trial, judgments were admitted showing that Jenkins had Kansas convictions for two aggravated burglaries, burglary of a dwelling, theft, and possession of marijuana for which he was sent to prison. He also had Texas convictions for possession of methamphetamine, attempted possession of cocaine, resisting arrest, evading arrest, and possession of marijuana.
“Since these are state jail felony offenses, there is no parole or early release,” Swain said.