By LeaAnne Klentzman
In a case the Star has been following since February of 2010, a neighborhood bully has finally been held accountable.
In a story first broken by the Star in 2010 about a neighborhood conflict, a Teal Run man has recently been convicted. It all began some two years ago when in the far east-side community of Teal Run, a small neighborhood within the subdivision was cowering from a menace. One of the residents on a quiet cul-de-sac was a felon who liked to scream, threaten, harass and, by and large, terrorize his neighbors. Reports were made to law enforcement officials who they responded so many times–their patrol car could get there on auto-pilot.
It got so bad that one neighbor positioned surveillance cameras around their property – making moving pictures suitable for the local TV news.
At the time we told readers, “Seems these eyes in the sky have captured the bully neighbor out working his yard with a pump-up sprayer full of some chemical which did felony damage to another neighbor’s car.”
Fortunately it did not go as far as some neighbor disputes have in Fort Bend County, but it finally made it to a courtroom. On June 6, 2011, Mark Childs was convicted of felony Criminal Mischief in the 240th District Court. Childs, 51, of Fresno, was indicted after he deliberately damaged his neighbor’s cars during a neighborhood dispute.
According to Assistant District Attorney Amanda Bolin, “Childs and the victim, Ms. Pena, are neighbors in a cul-de-sac and have been for a number of years.” The dispute began in the fall of 2009 when Childs parked his vehicle in the small space of the cul-de-sac between their homes thus blocking the Pena’s driveway. Police were called.
Since that did not work, Ms. Pena began parking her Ford Excursion in the disputed spot. Police were called again. Frustration mounted and the disputed escalated. Again, the police were called and no agreement could ever be reached regarding the parking spot. However, as reported in 2010, Ms Pena became fearful and installed a video surveillance system, documenting every thing and contacting the police when she felt it was necessary, said Bolin.
The defendant in this case, Childs, according to the District Attorney’s office, responded with belligerence, name-calling and eventually the destruction of Pena’s property.
“On January 20, 2010, while tending to his lawn, Childs intentionally sprayed a lawn chemical on Ms. Pena’s Ford Excursion. Although Ms. Pena didn’t notice the damage for a few days, she was able to review the surveillance video to witness the defendant spraying the chemical on her car. Because the chemical had been on the vehicle for a few days, it had already permanently damaged the paint.”
“Ms. Pena contacted police and then took her vehicle to Helfman Ford for a repair estimate. On the very day that Ms. Pena met with a detective on her case, the defendant sprayed chemicals on another one of Ms. Pena’s vehicles that was parked in the disputed spot at the time. Ms. Pena smelled the chemical odor immediately upon returning home and washed the vehicle, thus saving it from permanent damage. This second incident was also captured on surveillance video,” said Bolin in a press release.
Ms. Pena eventually had her Excursion repaired at Helfman Ford. Interestingly, Childs
paid a personal visit to Helfman Ford to express his dissatisfaction with the cost of the repairs. He continued to show the same belligerence and use intimidation tactics with the detective on the case and in the courtroom during trial, said Bolin.
“This is one of those cases where the actual act is not particularly heinous, but could have seriously escalated or become violent had the criminal justice system not intervened when it did,” said Bolin. “Ms. Pena did exactly what we encourage citizens to do when they find themselves in these situations – document everything and call the police for help instead of taking matters into your own hands.”
Childs was tried for Criminal Mischief. In this case, it is punishable by 180 days to two years in a state jail facility and a fine up to $10,000. Childs has requested that the court assess his punishment at a hearing set for August 2, 2011. Childs is eligible to receive probation.
Assistant District Attorneys Amanda C. Bolin and Elan Levy prosecuted the case. Rasheed Taylor represented the defendant.