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2008-01-03

Teflon man or victim of persecution?

By David Arny

The sequence of events must be becoming all-too-familiar to local law enforcement officers.

At approximately 3 am, Monday, Dec. 23, Wesley M. Schneider was arrested by Bandera County peace officers near Camp Sionito on State Highway 16 North.

Just hours later, he was released from custody - with all charges dropped.

At one point in the early morning fracas, two county constables, one state trooper, two deputies with the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office and a patrolman with the Bandera Police Department were involved in what began as a 9-1-1 call reporting “domestic violence with shots fired,” according to sources.

Precinct 1 Constable Phil Tobin, en route to assist Precinct 3 Constable Don Walters in an unrelated matter, was diverted to the location given by the emergency caller. After a brief search, he spotted a car parked with its trunk open. When Tobin ran the license plates, the car came back as being registered to Wesley M. Schneider, son of Bandera County Attorney Kerry Schneider.

After emerging from behind the vehicle with his hands in the air, Schneider was detained while he and his car were searched.
The search turned up two firearms, a rifle and a shotgun.

The woman, on whose behalf the 9-1-1 call had originally been made declined to file charges of domestic violence against Schneider.

However, because he had previously been arrested for illegal possession of a weapon, Schneider was arrested on charges of unlawfully possessing a firearm.

After his arrest, BPD Officer Allen Kelly transported Schneider to the Bandera County Jail - where the picture grewmurky.
Whether he was booked, fingerprinted and photographed - normal protocol for county arrestees once they arrive at the jail - remains a mystery.

In addition, the Courier was unable to determine the identity of the person or persons who determined an order of non-prosecution should be issued just a few hours following Schneider’s arrest. A call to Sheriff Weldon Tucker was not returned prior to press time.
Some local officials regard the entire episode as a misunderstanding due to the conditions of Schneider’s previous arrest on weapons charges - specifically, whether he could or could not legally own firearms.

However, the affair is strikingly similar to a Sept. 24, 2006, incident when Schneider’s arrest for DWI and possession of marijuana was omitted from the weekly sheriff’s report and charges against him were subsequently dropped.

A special prosecutor was hired by the county to investigate the case after Schneider’s mother recused herself.

The special prosecutor found the arresting officer, a veteran with the Department of Public Safety, had pulled the then-21-year-old over “without sufficient cause,” which invalidated the arrest.

Schneider’s latest encounter with the law came after Castroville attorney Chris Schuchart filed papers on his behalf to have his criminal record expunged, or permanently erased from his record.

According to a petition filed by Schuchart in the 216th District Court on June 11, 2007, five separate charges filed against Schneider since June 12, 2002, had been dismissed - just as illegal possession of firearms charges were dismissed following his Dec. 23 arrest. The petition lists arrests beginning when Schneider was 17 and continue until Sept. 24, 2006, when he was 21. The list, however, is not a complete accounting of his criminal history.

Dismissed charges sited in the petition include unlawful carrying of a firearm, felony burglary of a building, evading arrest, DWI - first and possession of two ounces or less of marijuana.

A Friday, July 20, 2007, article in the San Antonio Express-News details the expungement petition. Zeke MacCormack quoted Bandera County Attorney Kerry Schneider as asking, “He (Wesley) wants to get on with his life. Why can’t we leave him alone?”

After speaking with licensed peace officers from every county law enforcement agency, however, it seems a more appropriate question might be “Why can’t Wesley M. Schneider stay out of trouble?”