Matt Linn Davis, 39, of Cleveland, was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle and Possession of a Controlled Substance by a Liberty County jury on Jan. 14, 2020.
On February 7, 2019, Liberty County Sheriff’s Deputy John Mendoza initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle that had no front license plate and was parked on the wrong side of the road across from the Liberty County Jail. During his initial interview with the two occupants of the vehicle, he reportedly noticed that the ignition looked to be tampered with and that they were both extremely nervous.
Deputy Mendoza asked the driver, Matt Linn Davis, to step out of the vehicle while he ran the plate through dispatch. Davis informed Deputy Mendoza that he was currently out on parole, and that he was just waiting to pick up a friend from jail. Due to the nervous habits of both occupants and the fact that the VIN and license plate on the truck did not match, Deputy Mendoza asked Davis if he could search the vehicle.
Davis reportedly consented to the search and Deputy Mendoza found drug paraphernalia containing methamphetamine in a McDonald’s cup located on the driver’s side cup holder. The truck came back stolen out of Harris County. Davis was arrested for Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle and Possession of a Controlled Substance Penalty Group 1 Less Than 1 Gram.
Trial began on Jan. 13, 2020 in the 75th District Court with the Honorable Mark Morefield presiding. Assistant District Attorney Kayla Herrington presented evidence that consisted of witness testimony from law enforcement, a forensic scientist, and the victim of the vehicle theft. The State also produced a phone download from the cell phone that was in Davis’ possession at the time of his arrest. Davis had voluntarily consented to having the phone extracted, and contained on the phone were a mass of texts about the buying and selling of narcotics in the weeks leading up to his arrest.
After hearing two days of witness testimony and argument from both sides, the jury found Davis guilty in both cases. Davis had been previously convicted of multiple felony charges and was thereby enhanced. His punishment range was bumped up from that of a state jail felony to a third-degree felony. The punishment range for a third-degree felony is anywhere between two and 10 years in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and up to a $10,000 fine.
After considering Davis’ multiple prior felony judgments, including the Manufacturing and Delivering a Controlled Substance and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm charges for which he was on parole, the jury deliberated and sentenced him to 10 years in each case as well as a $5,000 fine.