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I know there are a huge number of guilty people who are never caught or convicted. I also know now that the system is not perfect and there are a huge number of innocent people, whom either are behind bars or having their present and future destroyed by wrong convictions, or by an unforgiving, black or white system.

This realization came as a shock to me, a licensed Texas peace officer, who thought that if you were in jail, or ever convicted of a crime, you were guilty, the system was in place and designed to be open, honest and fair. I was not working as a police officer, nor as a reserve officer when this incident occurred. I was a single parent, who had been living in a rural rent house, owned by a retired attorney, for almost two years. My daughter and I lived on the property, paid rent and kept an eye on the property and the cattle for the attorney. There had been several occasions where a cow had been down, broke a leg or was otherwise in need of medical attention, but when the attorney had been contacted, he refused to call a vet and had instructed us to either ignore the animal or shoot it. On one occasion, a horse owned by the attorney, had jumped a fence and received a terrible wound to it’s side by a t-post. The man would not call a vet and we doctored the horse and saved it, with no reimbursement from him. This is just to give insight into the character of the attorney. Anyway, after living there for almost two years, I quit my job in town and took a job for a Kennel, which was only twenty miles from my home, the attorney had told me about the job. As the next few weeks went by, the new employer began to make unwelcomed advances towards me, even after being told I was not interested in any relationship. That very day my truck would not start for unknown reasons, so he took me home. When we got to my home he asked whose cattle it was on the property, I told him they were my landlords, but it was an odd question at the time. One day I witnessed the kennel owner put a female dog in with the wrong Stud dog (The owners had specifically paid to breed their dog to another dog). I questioned him about it and he told me they would never know the difference, he needed the money. The following week I discovered unregistered puppies in with the registered puppies and then witnessed the owner claiming to AKC that his dogs litters had more puppies than were born. He was getting unregistered puppies and putting registration papers on them and selling them under false pretenses for a lot of money. I told him I would not be part of his scheme and I tried to quit. He threatened my life and that of my daughter and got extremely aggressive. I knew we would not be safe if we stayed in the home where he knew we were there alone. I found a home to move into close to my family and we waited until he left for the weekend and we moved quickly. I did not here anything from anyone for about two to three weeks, then suddenly one day I get a phone call from my ex-landlord. He said he had cattle missing, I told him I would gladly come and help him look for them but he began to curse and accuse me of taking them. I assured him I did not have anything to do with their disappearance and would cooperate with anyone who needed to talk to me. A few days later I got a call from the Texas Rangers and they came to my home and spoke with my daughter and I. I told them I would gladly take a polygraph or otherwise cooperate in any way, they said they would be in touch if they needed anything and they left. I got a job at a local western store and went about my life. Months later I went on the road with a rodeo photography job and spent the next year traveling and working. One day, at the scene of an accident I was ask for ID and was arrested, being told I had a warrant for my arrest. This left my 16 yr old daughter and my 13 yr old pet dog alone several states away from home. I spent two months in jail there, while my dog was left behind and my daughter put on a bus home to Texas, I never got my beloved pet back. After two months of being in jail in another state, I was picked up at midnight and put on a transfer van with two females and six men and spent ten days in full body chains being fed very little, resting in  different holding tank at night and only allowed to move and use restroom when we reached another jail. All the while I didn’t know what was going on or where my daughter was. When I did get to Navarro county, I was put in a jail cell that was so crowded that I slept on the floor with my head by the toilet. There were over twice as many people as there were cots. I saw my attorney once, when I was finally told that the reason my life had been turned upside down, was the owner of the kennel had been the one who stole and sold the cattle and who had a previous felony record He had been caught in two previous lies and had been given a third chance to tell the police what had occurred with the theft of the cattle, his story ultimately  added up to this: I had told him that the cattle were mine and that if he took them to the sale I would give him 1/3 of the sale price. Anyone who knows anything about livestock sales, knows this would never happen. There are people who round up, pick up and haul cattle to the sales all the time, this is non-sense, but was the story the police decided to believe and this is why I was arrested and my life ruined. When we went to court the first time I watched via TV screen from another building as my attorney told the judge he wasn’t prepared for court. After 4 months in jail we went to court again, where my attorney said I could get out on adjudicated probation or remain in jail for up to a year or more, while the man who stole the cattle and blamed me went to court and postponed one trial after another. I was stupid and I knew I would regret my decission for the rest of my life, I am not guilty and never was, yet I can never be a cop again, a school teacher, work for the government or even hold a CDL. I chose to take the adjudicated probation because I needed to be with my daughter and I was lied to and told it would never show on my record and after completed my life would continue just as if it never happened. This was a blatant lie, my life has been ruined. I never stole anything, I was honest, a cop, someone who thought living right and being honest counted for something, I was wrong. That was 2005, now 2013 and I’m still considered a Felon with no CDL rights and no job because I can’t even get a minimum wage job to support myself and my family. I just want my rights restored! Don’t let this happen to you, the system betrays us, the system does not work.
User story by Stone in Texas

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