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2016-02-04

Crime spree ends with 25 years in pen

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor



(Editor's note: As a point of clarification, in various court documents and other quasi-legal sources, the defendant has been referred to as Richard Ray Pompa Jr., II and III.)

A San Antonio resident was recently sentenced to 25 years in the state pen for his part in a 2013 merry chase that led law enforcement officers from one end of Bandera County to the other.
The pursuit included both high speed and foot chases, burglaries, unauthorized use of motor vehicles and two incinerated vehicles. The pickup trucks-bicycle-ATV-foot chase scenario also involved tracking dogs from the Texas Department of Corrections in Hondo.
On Jan. 19, 198th District Judge Rex Emerson sentenced Richard Ray Pompa III, 30, of San Antonio, to 25 years incarceration in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as part of a plea bargain in lieu of a jury trial.
With the plea bargain to one count of aggravated robbery, Pompa forfeited a right to appeal. He must serve 12 years before being eligible for parole.
Additionally, Pompa must make restitution in the amount of $15,854 with $3,787 going to David Coke Turner.
Prior to the proceedings, Emerson ruled that none of the other myriad charges that had stemmed from Pompa's crime spree were admissible into evidence. However, his rap sheet, which began in 2006, included convictions for theft, violation of a protective order, possession of marijuana, driving without a license and felony theft.
Latest brush with law
According to Bandera County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Matt King, Pompa's latest brush with the law - the one that got him confined to the big house - began Sept. 30, 2013, at 10:30 am in the 2200 block of South Goat Ridge, just off Bear Creek Road in Pipe Creek. When Turner confronted three suspects who appeared to be burglarizing a residence, one pulled a gun on him.
For his self-protection, Turner sped off in his vehicle. Undeterred, the suspects gave chase in a stolen pickup truck, slamming into the lead car several times.
Turner eventually outran his pursuers. In short order, however, a report of a vehicle on fire in the 700 block of Bear Creek Road came through emergency dispatch. In an attempt to leave no clues behind, it was concluded the perps torched their by-now disabled truck. However, the suspects left their swag - jewelry and firearms - in the burning vehicle, which was a total loss.
Eye witness rendition
Turner's rendition of his encounter with Pompa was a little less cut and dried. "He tried to kill me for a solid five minutes," Turner said during an interview on Monday, Feb. 1. The Pipe Creek resident had confronted Pompa after catching him and his cohorts in the act of robbing the home of a friend. "They pointed guns at me and tried to shoot me," Turner said. "I don't know what happened. Maybe the clip fell out or something, but that gave me an opportunity to get out of there."
Still in his truck, Turner put it into gear to vacate the scene; however, as reported earlier, the band of thieves jumped into a stolen pickup and the chase was on. At this point, Turner called a friend and asked her to contact the sheriff's office and have deputies deployed at the end of Bear Creek Road, where the chase was headed.
"We were going 90 miles an hour up Bear Creek Road and all the while they're trying to get a clear shot at me," Turner recalled.
While approaching the first "S" curve in the road, Turner slowed his vehicle down to about 20 miles, which enabled the driver of the second vehicle to slam into the back of his truck at approximately 70 miles per hour. "It knocked the rear end of my truck pretty bad, but I had forgotten to take it out of four-wheel drive and that's what saved my life," Turner said.
On the bright side, however, the collision apparently destroyed the front end of the stolen vehicle. As Turner reached Highway 16 South, he noticed a "pillar of smoke" billowing into the sky behind him and quickly ascertained that the stolen vehicle was on fire. However, before a contingent of law enforcement officers arrived, Pompa had stolen a second vehicle and eventually the chase resumed.
More chases
After the first pickup was disabled, Pompa had apparently hotfooted it over to the 900 block of Privilege Creek Road where he discovered a vehicle with keys still in it. With a fresh vehicle at his disposal, the chase was on. According to reports at the time, Pompa traveled north on Highway 16 before turning off on FM 470 toward Tarpley. After turning left onto FM 462 toward Hondo, Pompa apparently lost control of his vehicle, driving off Ross Road into a dry creek bed.
When law enforcement officers arrived on the scene, they found the vehicle engulfed in flames. "We thought he had torched the second vehicle; however, no evidence of accelerants were found," King said. "The vehicle was a total loss."
Officers immediately searched the area assisted by tracking dogs from the correctional facility in Hondo. The search was called off at 10 pm.
However, area residents remained vigilant - especially after a house was reportedly burglarized that night. At 5 am, a neighbor called 9-1-1 to report seeing a suspicious person with a flashlight. A deputy, dispatched to the area, observed a man riding a bicycle. Turning his patrol vehicle around, the deputy shouted, "Stop," to which Pompa supposedly replied, "No," and abandoned the bicycle, taking off on foot with the deputy hot on his tail. Firearms were found near the abandoned two-wheeler.
A little later, the suspect was discovered riding on a Gator-type all- terrain vehicle on a ranch in the area. A cadre of law enforcement converged on the scene. After Pompa apparently bailed off the ATV, officers apprehended him at 9:30 am, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013 in a wooded area after a short foot chase.
Indictment & mistrial
On Jan. 14, 2014, a Bandera County Grand Jury indicted Pompa for attempting to inflict imminent bodily injury on Turner by striking Turner's vehicle several times in the rear with a 2011 Chevrolet pickup truck. Pompa was also indicted for burglary of a residence.
At that time, outstanding charges still pending against Pompa included two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon, two counts of arson, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and a second burglary of a habitation.
Pompa's first trial ended in a mistrial on August 19, 2014 in the state's first two cases - burglary of a habitation and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after BCSO investigators failed to turn over an audiotape to District Attorney Scott Monroe, according to Pompa's then defense attorney Jerry Phillips of Kerrville. Because he didn't possess the supplemental report, Monroe was unable to release the tape to Phillips during the pre-trial discovery.
This oversight violated the Michael Morton Act, which Gov. Rick Perry had signed into law that January to help prevent wrongful convictions in Texas.
At that time, however, Monroe assured the Courier his office would be ready for another trial that winter. "Our intentions are to have a run at Mr. Pompa again," he said in an interview - and a successful second run it was.
When asked about the sentencing, Turner replied, "It's fine, I guess, but 25 years is what you can get for possessing a gram of cocaine. How is trying to kill someone less important than drug possession?"