District Judge Steve Ellis sentenced Leslie Rone, 35, of Brownwood, to 10 years in prison Friday for a crime spree in which she burglarized and stole from multiple victims.
Rone’s victims included her Lake Brownwood-area neighbors and a law enforcement family who had viewed Rone as one of their own.
Rone pleaded guilty Nov. 30 to six felonies — four for burglary of a habitation, one for theft from her employer and one for theft of a firearm. Ellis heard a day and a half of testimony in a punishment hearing that began Thursday morning.
Ellis rejected a plea for probation from Rone’s attorneys, who argued that Rone is a changed woman from the troubled, pill-addicted person who committed the crimes over a 29-month period from 2015 to 2017.
Rone is no longer addicted to pills, has done well since her release from jail on bond and has a full-time job at Burger King, defense attorneys Patrick Howard and Jason Johnson argued.
Rone’s troubles began after she returned from a military deployment to Afghanistan, the attorneys sought to show.
Prosecutor Elisha Bird argued that Rone, 35, of Brownwood, still hasn’t been truthful about her crimes despite her guilty pleas. Bird referenced testimony that indicated Rone was addicted to prescription pain pills for an injury that was not related to her military service.
Several of Rone's victims sat in the courtroom as Bird spoke, and Bird reminded Ellis that victims had testified that prison, not probation, was appropriate for Rone.
“We do publicly thank Miss Rone for her (military) service,” Bird said. “ … When you chose to go the wrong way, there are consequences."
As Ellis prepared to announce Rone’s sentence, Ellis said a home burglary “violates the very sanctity of one’s home.”
A home should be a place of “joy and calm, and when you violate that, it hurts people,” Ellis said. “This is not just about you, ma’am. This is a day of reckoning today … justice is not served if I just let you walk out of here today.”
According to the six indictments to which Rone pleaded guilty:
• Theft — aggregated. From June 2015 to September 2015, Rone, while working as a cashier at a convenience store, stole about $3,900 from her employer.
• Burglary of a habitation — In January 2017, Rone entered a home and took a firearm.
• Theft of firearm — In March 2017, Rone stole a firearm from the home of her sister, who did not want to prosecute.
• Burglary of a habitation — in May 2017, Rone entered a home and took a firearm.
• Burglary of a habitation — in November 2017, Rone entered a habitation and took medication.
• Burglary of a habitation — in November 2017, Rone entered a home and took medication and jewelry.
Rone began crying after Ellis announced the sentence. Still sobbing, Rone said “I’m sorry” as deputies escorted her out of the courtroom and she walked past several of her victims.
In an unrelated case, A Fort Worth man who handed his child to a trooper before fleeing on foot after a traffic stop near Bangs, which resulted in his arrest on multiple charges, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Ellis approved a plea bargain in sentencing Felix Ajaegbu, 27, to a pair of concurrent 10-year terms in two cases of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
Ajaegbu, represented by defense attorney Tommy Adams, pleaded guilty in both cases. First Assistant District Attorney Chris Brown told Ellis prosecutors were dismissing a child endangerment charge as part of the plea deal.
Ajaegbu was arrested after the Sept. 3, 2016 traffic stop on additional charges of fleeing police, unlawful carrying of a weapon, possession of marijuana and failure to identify as a fugitive, jail records state.
In the 2016 traffic stop, a trooper located items including marijuana, Xanax, ecstasy, mushrooms, codeine cough syrup and $500 in counterfeit money, authorities said earlier. Ajaegbu also had a loaded handgun in his child’s diaper bag.
Ajaegbu handed another trooper his child, who was 17 months old at the time, and fled on foot, eluding a search by several law enforcement officers. Ajaegbu made it to a home 1.5 miles away, where he told a man he had a flat and needed a ride.
But the man saw numerous law enforcement vehicles and called 9-1-1 to ask if officers were looking for someone. A trooper drove to the home on County Road 177 and took Ajaegbu into custody.
Troopers released the child to her mother after the woman arrived from Forth Worth.
In another unrelated court case, a former Zephyr teacher, Freya McCleery, 38, was placed on 10 years deferred adjudication after pleading guilty to improper relationship between educator and student.
Zephyr school board members voted in August 2017 to non-renew McCleery’s contract for the 2017-’18 school year.
Sheriff Vance Hill said then that his office was investing an alleged improper relationship between a female teacher and a male student that occurred during the 2016-’17 school year in the Zephyr school district.
Zephyr Superintendent Stanton Marwitz said earlier via email he was notified in July 2917 of “an alleged inappropriate relationship between an employee and a former student of Zephyr ISD that was alleged to have occurred when the student was enrolled in ZISD.”