Seated next to his attorney in 35th District Court Wednesday afternoon, Bryan Makuta — accused of threatening 3M and its plant manager with violence via social media — said he’s ready to reform his life.
Makuta, 45, of Bangs, said he plans to move to Nolan County, remarry his schoolteacher ex-wife and get back in church. He said he’s sorry if videos he posted on Facebook made anyone feel uncomfortable.
Makuta made those statements as he waited to learn whether District Judge Steve Ellis would approve a plea bargain that would keep him out of prison.
Ellis expressed reservation but approved the plea bargain, which placed Makuta on a tightly structured, 10-year deferred adjudication probation for stalking, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and continuous violence against the family. Makuta is also required to pay a $3,000 fine and perform 300 hours of community service.
The stalking charge was related to Makuta’s threats against 3M plant manager Russ Bryan. Makuta previously worked at 3M and made the threats after his employment ended. The other two charges were related to a domestic disturbance in November, when Makuta was arrested on numerous charges.
As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors dismissed a terroristic threat case pertaining to Makuta’s threats against 3M.
“I’m a good man,” Makuta told Ellis. “I went left when I should’ve went right. I did some things I’m ashamed of and made some people feel uncomfortable.”
Makuta also said he’s a military veteran, an Eagle scout and “a Boy Scout at heart. I’m ready to reform my life and be better. I’d like to prove that to everybody today.”
Makuta was represented by defense attorney Tommy Adams. Prosecutor Elisha Bird represented the state.
Other conditions of Makuta’s probation include electronic monitoring, a 10 p.m. curfew, permanent surrender of his handgun license and requirements that he attend a battery intervention class and receive mental health care. He is also prohibited from coming within a mile of 3M or making social media posts about 3M or plant manager Bryan.
Makuta has already been under mental health care and has spent time in two mental health facilities, testimony revealed.
Still facing misdemeanor charges
Before Wednesday’s plea bargain, Makuta remained jailed in lieu of bonds totaling $500,000. The plea bargain did not deal with four misdemeanor charges that Makuta still faces — for DWI, unlawfully carrying a weapon, possession of a dangerous drug and possession of marijuana.
Bonds on those four cases total $100,000, and Makuta will have to make those bonds before he leaves jail, Bird said.
Mental health issues
A few minutes into the court proceeding, Ellis asked Makuta if he has had any mental issues, and Makuta said he has not. Adams said he believed Makuta was sane and competent.
But then Ellis learned that Makuta had been in two mental health facilities and was recently evaluated by a psychiatrist at the request of Makuta’s lawyer. Clearly displeased, Ellis asked Makuta to explain why Makuta had just said he’d had no mental health issues.
Makuta said he hadn’t understood the meaning of mental health issues when Ellis asked that questioned. Makuta said he had been hospitalized for substance abuse issues and acknowledged he is a patient of the Center for Life Resources. Makuta has been prescribed medication and is taking it in jail, testimony revealed.
“I don’t like you telling me you haven’t when you had,” Ellis said, referring to Makuta’s initial denial of mental health issues.
“I apologize,” Makuta replied.
Bird: Victims not opposed to plea bargain
Ellis asked Bird if victims involved in the plea bargain cases had been contacted. Bird said she has had conversations with 3M and Bryan. “He’s aware,” Bird said of Bryan. “He is not opposed to the plea.”
Bird also said 3M had submitted a written statement, which Bird gave to Ellis.
The victim in the aggravated assault case had agreed to prosecutors “working it out at our discretion,” Bird said. She said prosecutors had been unable to locate the victim in the continuous violence against the family case.
Ellis: Why is this deal appropriate
Ellis asked Bird why the state believed deferred adjudication was appropriate. Bird replied that the recommended probation was “not a typical probation recommendation under any circumstances. I think everyone involved would like to see him get help.”
Bird said she believed the “very structured and very finely tuned probation” provided Makuta with his best chance for reform.
History of cases
After Makuta was arrested in November, he was released a day later on bonds totaling $78,000. Makuta was arrested twice in February on charges of assault and disorderly conduct, jail records state.
He was released on bonds after both arrests.
According to complaints filed by Texas Ranger Jason Shea:
In March, Brownwood police told a 3M security officer that Makuta was someone 3M may wish to be aware of as he was “considered volatile” at the time. Police told the security officer Makuta had been arrested the previous week and had attempted to harm himself.
3M officials in Brownwood notified Alex Rockwell of 3M corporate security, who began to monitor Facebook posts Makuta had made since March. Many of those posts were Makuta’s “focused attention on 3M and the Brownwood plant manager, Russ Bryan,” Shea’s complaint states.
Due to the security concern, 3M hired off-duty police officers to provide security for the Brownwood plant. Based on a media report about the extra security amid threats from a former employee, Makuta “begins posting on Facebook videos specifically naming Bryan and makes threats toward him,” the complaint states.
The complaint alleged that Makuta “posted dozens of videos that are directed at 3M and Bryan.”