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On Dec. 12 in the 115th District Court, an Upshur County Jury in the 115th District Court returned a 75 year verdict in the Aggravated Robbery trial against 30 year old Gerald Michaul Hiam, Jr., of Dallas, Texas. Additionally, the jury assessed a $10,000.00 fine. The defendant pled guilty to the crime last week before jury selection, and the punishment trial began yesterday morning following opening statements.
On April 17, 2017, prior to 6:00 a.m., Mr. Hiam entered the Texaco West store on Highway 154. He ran to the counter in a ski mask, holding a handgun and pointing in the face of the clerk, all while demanding money from the register. Before running out, he took the victims cellphone and threw it against the wall, causing it to shatter. After using the proceeds to purchase a large quantity of heroin, he drove to the Dallas areas where he continued his crime spree. At Coppell High School in Dallas, he found a 15 year old male student waiting for his mom after the end of the school day. He approached the child, displayed a handgun, and demanded his wallet and cell phone. Then, on April 19, 2017, he circled the Target parking lot in Dallas until he found a young mother removing her child and stroller from her car. He drove up, pointed the gun at her, and demanded her phone and wallet. He was later found and taken into custody by the Dallas Police Department.
The jury heard evidence that in 2009, Mr. Hiam presented himself at an apartment as a repair man. When the door was opened, he ran inside and put a knife against the victim’s throat and stole jewelry and property. The defendant was sentenced to seven (7) years in prison for that Aggravated Robbery offense. The jury heard evidence that this defendant had five (5) prior felony convictions along with multiple misdemeanor convictions.
The victim from Texaco recognized Mr. Hiam and picked him out of a photo line-up. He had been in the store two days before, when she offered him a hamburger at her local church for Easter. The defendant testified in his defense and admitted under cross examination there were multiple crimes he had committed in which he had not been caught.
Judge Lauren Parish presided. Criminal District Attorney Billy W. Byrd and First Assistant Sarah Lyn Cooper prosecuted the case for the State. Longview attorney Scott Novy represented the defendant.
We are thankful for the jury’s sentence. Without strong juries justice could never be obtained. They served this community and state very well. The Gilmer Police Department handled the investigation and Investigator Casey Driggers was the lead officer.