Awaiting sentencing Wednesday morning for his 10th felony conviction, Homero Retana asked for mercy.
    “I’m going to give mercy, but not to you,” Brown County Court-at-Law Sam Moss told Retana, 42, of Farmer’s Branch. “I’m giving mercy to the people you sold drugs to and your children, and people you stole from and lied to, as you have done to me here today.”
    Moss then sentenced Retana for 99 years in prison for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Moss convicted Retana Tuesday after a bench trial, and sentenced him Wednesday as a repeat and habitual offender. Retena faced a minimum of 25 years in prison and maximum of 99 years or life in prison.
    Retina was one of three people arrested in April 2016 after deputies stopped their car in Brownwood and recovered nearly 30 grams of methamphetamine, according to testimony.
    Co-defendant Tracy Conn III, 45, of Lewisville, was sentenced to 99 years in following a December jury trial. Conn’s conviction was his 11th felony conviction.
    The third co-defendant, Mandy Hardin, 43, of Brownwood, is awaiting trial. Hardin is Conn’s stepsister, according to testimony in Conn’s trial.
     The three were arrested after sheriff’s narcotics director Carlyle Gover received information that a blue Chevrolet car would be traveling in Brownwood, occupied by a woman and two men and carrying a large amount of methamphetamine for distribution, sheriff’s officials said earlier.
    Gover located the car in the area of U.S. Highway 377 South and 15th Street in Brownwood, and made a traffic stop for stopping, standing or parking in prohibited places.
    Conn, who was in possession of the car, denied consent to search and Gover called for the sheriff’s office K-9 unit. Then-Capt. James Stroope brought his drug dog, Buster, to the scene, and Buster alerted on the car.
    Deputies searched the car and found methamphetamine along with distribution-related items including scales and packaging.
    Conn and Retana had traveled from the Dallas area to Brownwood and stayed briefly at Hardin’s home, according to testimony. Hardin set up three drug deals — one for $20, one for $50 and one for $100.
    Retana received the money from the sales, according to testimony. Before the three were arrested, Retana bought shorts at the Dollar General store. Retena had $162 and was the only one of the three who had money when they were booked into jail.
    During punishment testimony Wednesday, defense attorney Larry Meadows questioned Coggin Avenue Baptist Church member James Woolridge. Woolridge said he is involved with jail ministry and had numerous visits with Retana in the Brown County Jail.
    Woolridge said Retana is a Christian who was not walking close to God at the time of his offenses. But Retana has grown spiritually during his time in the Brown County Jail. Wooldridge testified.
    “Toward the end of last year, it was him that inspired me with his faith,” Woolridge said. “He’s going to be an asset wherever he’s at. He’s a good man. He’s a man of God, and I would trust him with everything I’ve got.”
    On cross-examination, prosecutor Chris Brown asked Woolridge, “would you agree he’s not always been a good man?”
    “Neither was Paul in the Bible,” Woolridge replied.
    “Would you also agree that spiritual redemption is different from earthly redemption?” Brown asked.
    Woolridge said he understands that, and Brown said spiritual redemption is one thing, but people are still required to face earthly consequences.
    Retena, the final witness, said he has a 19-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter. Retena said he had been on parole for four months in a previous case when he was arrested. Retena said he told Conn he had some days off and invited him to “hang out.”
    Retana said took a road trip with Conn because he’d never been west of Dallas and wanted to see the scenery.
      “I’m asking for mercy,” Retana said, acknowledging that he’s made some bad mistakes in the past..
    “It’s God’s will, whatever he gives me. I just pray for the minimum sentence, please,” Retana said.
    Answering questions on cross-examination, Retana acknowledged that there had been only a few months since 2004 when he wasn’t involved in the criminal justice system in some way. Retana committed two felony offenses when his daughter was just eight days old, Retana acknowledged.
    As Retana concluded his testimony, he said he’d benefitted from taking a parenting class called Parenting Wisely while incarcerated in the Brown County Jail.
    During his closing argument, Meadows spoke briefly. “We’re going to leave it to the court,” Meadows said. “My client’s asked for mercy and we’ll leave it at that.”
    Brown summarized Retana’s criminal history and said Retana reoffended repeatedly after being given chances at leniency and treatment. Brown said it seems the criminal justice system had failed Retana by not getting his attention with longer sentences.
    Brown said it’s good that Retana has visited with a jailhouse minister and completed a parenting course. “But, I would submit, too little, too late,” Brown said.
    As Moss prepared to sentenced Retana, Moss said he hopes it’s true that Retana is a man of faith. But Moss said Retana’s story that he traveled to Brownwood to see the scenery was not believable.
    “The truth is, you were here to sell drugs,” Moss said. “You’ve been a drug dealer, and you’ve been one for 10 years.”
    Moss said doesn’t believe the criminal justice system failed Retana. “I think you failed the system,” Moss said.
    “I do hope you get mercy. It’ll be from God. I do believe he will give you mercy. I won’t.”
    Moss said Retana has squandered every opportunity and made people believe him when he says he’s changed. “Justice, to me, is locking you up for as long as I can,” Moss said.