Todd Crabtree gets probation for standoff

Published on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 19:36 - Written by PHILLIP WILLIAMS Special Correspondent

GILMER — The son of former Upshur County Precinct 3 Commissioner Lloyd Crabtree was placed on probation Tuesday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge in connection with a standoff both men had with a state game warden last year.

Todd Allen Crabtree, who had been charged with three felonies in the incident, was sentenced to two years probation of a one-year county jail term by 115th District Judge Lauren Parish on a reduced charge of unlawful restraint.

One of the felony charges, unlawful restraint of a peace officer, was reduced to the class A misdemeanor, while the other two felony charges were dismissed on a plea bargain, Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd said.

The plea came 18 days after the elder Crabtree was placed on five years of probation of a 10-year prison term upon pleading guilty to a felony charge of taking a firearm from a peace officer. While Lloyd Crabtree pointed a rifle at state Game Warden Shane Bailey during the incident on Lloyd Crabtree's property near Big Sandy, the younger Crabtree neither pointed his rifle at anyone nor threatened to, Byrd has said.

Byrd said Tuesday the felony indictment for unlawful restraint alleged Todd Crabtree used his firearm to commit that act, and the charge was reduced because he didn't use the gun nor make verbal threats.

Crabtree, 29, was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service, fined $250, assessed various court-related costs, and ordered to take an anger management course.

As part of the plea bargain, he took the witness stand to apologize to Bailey, who was present, and two other officers involved in the standoff.

“I want to apologize. … At no time did I ever imagine that going hunting could lead to a gigantic mess,” Crabtree said told a courtroom packed with about 20 state game wardens and other law officers. Crabtree, who purportedly told the game warden during the incident that he was trespassing, also said he had learned a lot about the law and he had been “misinformed” about it.

The younger Crabtree, represented by Longview attorney John W. Moore, also said he never intended to put anyone in harm’s way and “I understand this situation could have been handled differently.”

Bailey was patrolling on Oct. 6, 2012, when he encountered first Todd Crabtree, then Lloyd Crabtree, both armed with .22 caliber rifles, Byrd said. When the younger Crabtree encountered the game warden, who was wearing a camouflage jacket and riding a four-wheeler, Todd Crabtree told him he was under arrest for trespassing and called 911 to request his arrest, Byrd has said.

Byrd has blamed the incident on the elder Crabtree's “clearly flawed” thinking that he was making a citizen’s arrest for trespassing.