Neutral: Hopefully This Guy Will Stay Behind Bars This Time - Denton, TX

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    Neutral: Hopefully This Guy Will Stay Behind Bars This Time - Denton, TX

    ‘Dedicated, committed, violent’ | Denton Record-Chronicle | News for Denton County, Texas | Local News

    Fear.

    Violence and threats, and the willingness to make good on those threats.

    Intimidating witnesses and co-defendants into silence.

    Such has been the life story of Earnest Lynn Ross, and more chapters are unfolding.

    Ross, 43, has been in the Denton County Jail since June 17, charged with attempted capital murder of a peace officer, three aggravated robberies and one robbery. He was indicted Wednesday on three federal charges of being a felon in possession of a weapon.

    His bail for those eight charges totals $6.5 million.

    Duncanville police obtained the attempted capital murder warrant in connection with a carjacking that a Duncanville officer interrupted. The driver, believed to be Ross, shot at the officer several times but missed.

    Dallas police say the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Ross threatened to kill Denton County Sheriff Benny Parkey and bragged that he’d had Parkey in his gun sights twice.

    A Dallas police detective says he has evidence of a hundred home invasion robberies and burglaries since 2005 in 21 cities in six counties. Evidence links Ross’ gang to the “Scarecrow Bandits,” a group of bank robbers recently arrested, the detective said.

    Ross is believed to have killed two men, though because witnesses changed their stories on the stand, he does not have a conviction for murder.

    He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 execution-style shooting of Bobby Turner outside his home off Fort Worth Drive.

    Co-defendants retracted their statements on the witness stand, and eight years later, the conviction was overturned on a technical issue. Ross was accused of stabbing another inmate with a “shank” but was found not guilty after another inmate who witnessed the stabbing recanted.

    And even today, decades after he first was tried as an adult at 16 for raping a 14-year-old Denton girl, victims won’t talk about him.

    Ross declined an interview. His wife, Nene Ross of Rockwall, said she would have to ask her husband before granting an interview and never called back.

    Law enforcement officers, however, have plenty to say about Ross and the gang of criminals he has been associated with.

    “I’ve been on the job 30 years, and these are the worst I’ve ever dealt with,” said Dallas Detective D.H. Boy, lead investigator on the current cases against Ross. “They are committing violent crimes. They’ve injured people. They’ve tortured people.”

    Parkey has a long history with Ross, a Fort Worth native who moved to Denton as a youth and has returned after each incarceration, even when prohibited from entering the county by rules of his parole.

    “He is a dedicated, committed, violent, lifelong criminal,” Parkey said.

    ‘Bright’ and ‘utterly violent’

    Though details of juvenile crimes are not public record, court documents show Ross was detained in six different juvenile facilities before he was 16.

    On July 23, 1981, a 14-year-old girl was asleep in her bed as her parents left for work. According to testimony, Ross and his 18-year-old cousin, Jerry Roy, kicked in the back door and came into the house to commit burglary. They awakened the girl and dragged her by her hair to another bedroom, where Ross threatened her with a butcher knife while Roy ransacked the house for valuables.

    While Roy was gone, Ross violently raped the girl, threatened to kill her and told her that when it was over, he would pay her another visit, according to trial testimony.

    Denton Detective David Scott, who now is a lieutenant in the sheriff’s office, worked the case. Acting on information he received from a source, Scott found the two youths and questioned them. Roy, an escapee from a juvenile detention ranch, had some property stolen from the house in his pockets.

    A subsequent search of the house where they were living turned up more stolen property. Scott arrested Ross.

    Ross was the first 16-year-old in Denton County to be tried as an adult. He was convicted of burglary with the intent to rape and sentenced to 20 years in prison. During that trial, prosecutors introduced a note from Ross they found in Roy’s jail cell. The note contained threats against Roy if he testified against Ross.

    The 14-year-old girl’s family bought two Doberman dogs afterward. They did not feel safe in their home, the girl’s mother said in a 1993 interview. They moved.

    They still don’t feel safe, said a relative, who called after the victim had agreed to an interview but backed out.

    “There will be no interview,” the relative said. “This man is frightening. We don’t want to be associated with it.”

    Ross was 20, serving his sentence for that crime, when he stabbed another inmate to death. He claimed self-defense. According to newspaper accounts at the time, a Hunt County man died after being stabbed in the chest, one arm and both legs.

    David Weeks was a special prosecutor for the prison system at that time. The only witness who would admit seeing the stabbing changed his story on the witness stand and testified that Ross stabbed the man in self-defense, Weeks said. He was acquitted.

    Weeks told the Denton Record-Chronicle in a 1993 interview that several inmates later told him that they too saw the crime and it was not self-defense, but they were afraid of Ross.

    During that prison stay, Ross himself was stabbed, and he was tried and acquitted in the assault of a corrections officer.

    “He’s one of the ones you don’t forget,” Weeks said in the 1993 interview. “Very bright. Utterly violent. A killer.”

    A violent resume

    Ross was paroled in February 1990, a little more than eight years into the 20-year sentence. He was restricted from entering Denton County.

    In 1992, he was arrested in Houston on a charge of aggravated assault.

    Parkey ran across him in Denton later that year. Ross presented the Denton police detective with a resume that proclaimed him as a “bodyguard, skip tracer and weapons expert,” Parkey remembers.

    “His resume was four or five pages long. I said, ‘This is [expletive],’” Parkey said. “He said, ‘That’s what resumes are.’ I said, ‘No, just yours.’”

    Parkey took him in on a parole violation warrant.

    But by September 1993, Ross was again in Denton. Though not believed to be a part of an ongoing drug war between two gangs, he nevertheless inserted himself into the violent end to the war.

    A group of men led by Marcus “Sharkey” Johnson that included Bobby Turner was fighting over drug turf with a gang led by Ollie Mae Darrough that included David Stringer and Damon Jones.

    Over a weekend, the two gangs exchanged gunfire three times with no injuries. Several bullets struck a house on Kerley Street. One of Ross’ relatives was inside the house at the time, and though the relative was not injured, Ross joined with the Darrough gang to seek revenge on the Sharkey gang, according to testimony.

    In the early morning hours of Sept. 30, 1993, Ross dressed all in black and, accompanied by Darrough, her 16-year-old son, Stringer and Jones, went to a mobile home off Fort Worth Drive where Turner lived with his parents and siblings.

    According to evidence presented at the trial, Ross, who was then 28, climbed into the living room through a window, stepped over two sleeping boys, walked past a teenage girl in her bedroom and forced Turner at gunpoint to accompany him back outside.

    The gang wanted Sharkey, but they didn’t know where Sharkey lived, according to testimony. So the plan was to abduct Turner and make him tell them where to find the gang leader.

    Outside, Ross held Turner in a chokehold and forced him at gunpoint toward a fence that divided the area from the street. Turner broke and ran. Ross shot him in the back and then walked to where he lay and fired several more shots into his head, according to co-defendants’ statements read during the trial.

    Denton police knew the two gangs had been fighting and concentrated on that aspect in seeking the killer. Jeff Wawro, now a captain with the sheriff’s office, was lead investigator in the case. He and Parkey arrested Ross on another parole violation and then charged him with murder, along with the other Darrough gang members.
    Denton Record-Chronicle file photo
    Denton Record-Chronicle file photo
    In this 1993 file photo, Denton police Detective Benny Parkey searches for evidence at the mobile home where Bobby Turner lived. After his capital murder conviction was overturned in 2000, Earnest Ross confessed to shooting Turner and pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
    View larger More photos Photo store

    “What stood out in this case was the fear,” Wawro said. “It was a factor with any potential witness. The greatest obstacle in solving that case was getting these witnesses to testify against him. It took not hours or days, but months, to get them to give statements implicating him.”

    The star witness was a teenage girl who had overheard the plot to kidnap Turner. She was terrified. Police held her in protective custody for a while but eventually had to free her. On the witness stand, the teenager recanted her statement.

    Darrough and Jones, who had been given limited protection for their testimony, each refused to testify when they were sworn in. Judge Phillip Vick directed them to testify and when they again refused, he allowed prosecutors to read their statements to the jury.

    This decision was the basis of the appeal filed by Ross’ attorneys.

    Ross was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. But in 2000, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction after two state appeals courts had upheld it. Ross agreed to plead to the lesser charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to time served for the crime. As part of the plea agreement, Ross signed a document admitting that he shot Turner.

    But he still had time to serve on the parole violation, so Ross was not released until 2003 when he was released to a halfway house.

    Daisy Unuigbey is Turner’s mother. She was a parole officer when her son was shot to death. She did not respond to a hand-delivered message left with a relative at her Corinth home asking for comment.

    Alleged links to crimes

    D.H. Boy, a Dallas detective, said he has evidence that links Ross to violent crimes beginning in 2005. And in April 2006, a Duncanville police officer escaped injury when the driver of a vehicle involved in a carjacking shot at him. The officer fired back, but the driver escaped into some woods and took another car at gunpoint later that day, Boy said.

    Ross has been charged with that attempted capital murder of a police officer.

    The Dallas-Fort Worth area has been terrorized by groups of men who break into houses, assault people there, threaten them with weapons and leave with cash and other valuables. Boy said he could show that Ross and his friends are responsible for 100 of those break-ins. They targeted people likely to have large amounts of cash in the house, Boy said.

    Some were criminals themselves who kept cash nearby. Others were part of groups that don’t traditionally trust American banks. Still others were simply rumored to have cash.

    On Aug. 7, police believe Ross crawled through the bathroom window at the home of the girlfriend of a lawyer the gang believed was holding a large amount of cash for a drug dealer he represented, according to arrest affidavits. Police believe Ross threatened the woman with a pistol, threw her in a closet along with her dog, whose neck he tried to break, and ransacked the house. He and other members of the gang found $38,000 but were not satisfied, according to the court document.

    According to another affidavit, the men first went to the lawyer’s house, broke in and tied up the lawyer. Ross used needle-nose pliers on the man to try to get him to tell him where the money was, according to the court document. Then he poured water over his face to simulate drowning. But the lawyer had only $50 in the house. So they visited the girlfriend.

    About two months ago, Boy said, he received information that led him to Ross and the others. He also received information about the threats to the Denton County sheriff and notified Parkey.

    Parkey said he began to exercise caution. He took the threats seriously, given his history with Ross.

    He also offered his special crimes and narcotics units to Dallas police to help with the investigation. Wawro supervises those units. He worked with Boy and other Dallas officers on a plan to get the gang into custody.

    “This group was very active and violent. It had to be done pretty quickly before someone was killed,” Wawro said. “This guy is a gangster — a full-blown gangster.”

    Joint police effort

    Police devised a sting operation in a large parking lot in the part of Dallas that lies in Denton County.

    “This was not by happenstance,” Wawro said. “It was orchestrated for the most amount of safety for the officers and for the citizens.”

    Sheriff’s Lt. Scott, who as a young Denton police officer was the first to arrest Ross on the 1981 sexual assault, supervised the sting. According to a court document prepared by Narcotics Detective Jeff Davis, they had arrest warrants for Ross and other gang members. Gang members believed that a man had a safe containing $400,000. They needed a big truck to haul away the safe.

    Davis rented a truck and parked it in the parking lot earlier in the day.

    Two men arrived on foot at 8 p.m. and got into the truck. Ross and another gang member arrived in a silver Mercedes moments later. Officers arrested the men and searched the Mercedes. Inside, they found three handguns and an assault rifle. They found vests with “SWAT” marked on them and gloves and “zip ties” that could be used to tie up victims.

    All four men were arrested.

    “It’s been one of those deals where two agencies worked well together,” Boy said. “Denton County was a tremendous help. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

    Wawro said it was one of the most successful operations he’s ever been part of. And it was vital to get Ross and his friends in custody, he said.

    “In all the years I’ve dealt with Ross, fear has been the continuing thread,” Wawro said. “He threatens people — even his own co-defendants — and that has been successful for him. He shows a willingness to carry out those threats.”

    Parkey said no charges would be filed in the threats against him.

    No evidence of real intent came to light, he said. But he is glad that Ross is behind bars — in this case, his bars — and that there are enough charges this time that people should be safe from Ross for the rest of his life, Parkey said.

    “If society needs protecting from anybody, it needs protecting from Earnest Lynn Ross,” he said.

    DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is dfielder@dentonrc.com.

    EARNEST LYNN ROSS TIMELINE

    Feb. 15, 1965 — birth of Earnest Lynn Ross

    1975 to 1981 — Ross spent time in six different juvenile detention centers

    July 23, 1981 — Burglary/rape occurred about 8:30 a.m. Ross, 16, had recently been released from latest detention center.

    Afternoon of July 23, 1981 — Police found Ross and his 18-year-old cousin, Jerry Bob Roy Jr., with stolen property from the house.

    July 24, 1981 — Denton Detective David Scott arrested Ross and his cousin on burglary and rape charges.

    Nov. 12, 1981 — Ross sentenced to 20 years prison on burglary charge in connection with the rape. Trial evidence showed Ross wrote threatening note to Roy, his cousin, about testifying against him.

    1984 — Ross accused of stabbing another inmate to death in prison. The only witness changed his testimony on the witness stand and Ross was found not guilty by reason of self-defense.

    Feb. 15, 1990 — Ross paroled to Dallas County and restricted from entering Denton County.

    April 19, 1992 — Ross arrested in Houston on aggravated assault charge

    Sept. 27, 1993 — One house was struck by several bullets during a weekend when two drug gangs exchanged gunfire three times. No injuries.

    Sept. 30, 1993 — Bobby Turner was shot five times after being abducted from his home at Country View Mobile Home Park.

    Oct. 9, 1993 — Marcus “Sharkey” Johnson, Warren Owens, Kevin Williams, Waverly Taylor, Santee Sanford and Rodney O’Neal were arrested on charges of engaging in organized crime, attempted murder, in connection with drive-by shootings.

    Oct. 22, 1993 — Detectives Benny Parkey and Jeff Wawro arrested Ross on a parole violation. He was charged with capital murder. Subsequently, Ollie Mae Darrough, Damon Lamont Jones, David Stringer and a juvenile were also charged in the murder of Turner.

    Sept. 19, 1994 — Ross found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison.

    Nov. 11, 1994 — Ollie Mae Darrough sentenced to life in prison after conviction for capital murder.

    June 8, 1995 — Damon Jones sentenced to life in prison after conviction for capital murder.

    2000 — Ross conviction overturned by U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge on technical issues.

    May 21, 2001 — Ross pleaded guilty to lesser charge of aggravated assault with deadly weapon after second trial began. Sentenced to eight years, which was time already served. Remained incarcerated on parole violation.

    2003 — Ross released from prison.

    April 13, 2006 — A man carjacked a couple. An hour later, the same man committed another carjacking. When a Duncanville police officer pursued the car, the carjacker fired several shots at the officer but missed. Ross has been charged with attempted capital murder in that case.

    June 17, 2008 — Ross arrested on three aggravated robbery charges, one robbery charge, three charges of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon and attempted capital murder. Held in Denton County Jail in lieu of $6.5 million. Also held with no bail on a federal marshal hold.

    July 9, 2008 — Ross indicted in federal court on three federal charges of unlawfully carrying a weapon.
    This is one very bad man who is hopefully off the streets for the rest of his life. Hopefully the thing only society has to fear from this guy from now on is that he will live a long life, costing taxpayers a lot of money.
    "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground."

    - Thomas Jefferson

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    Member Array spooter66's Avatar
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    I think they need to strap him down and put the needle in his arm. If they are looking for a volunteer to push the plunger I'm free all this week.

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Why wait for a needle they shoot rabid dogs sometimes there are certain people that just need kilt to make society a little better
    "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
    --Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .

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    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    This man should have been off the streets a long time ago. I agree with handicapping our justice system to make sure innocent people don't go to jail, but this guy should have been railroaded into a quick execution.

    Sometimes we need to hear stories like this to remind us of just how bad some of the criminal element really is. Thanks for the post, Mike.
    There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

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    Senior Member Array bluelineman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerbouchard View Post
    This man should have been off the streets a long time ago. I agree with handicapping our justice system to make sure innocent people don't go to jail, but this guy should have been railroaded into a quick execution.
    +1

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    VIP Member Array obxned's Avatar
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    This guy has proven he can't be out in society and that he can't behave in prison. There is only one place left for him
    "If we loose Freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the Last Place on Earth!" Ronald Reagan

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    Quote Originally Posted by spooter66 View Post
    I think they need to strap him down and put the needle in his arm. If they are looking for a volunteer to push the plunger I'm free all this week.
    I'm free this week, and the rest of my life.

    I'm sure there is no shortage of volunteers for this duty.

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    I've got to head to work tomorrow, but I'm free today...can we set something up for this evening?

    The judges and lawyers who allowed this scumbag to waste O2 for so long should be sitting right next to him...OMO
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    VIP Member Array Sig 210's Avatar
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    Ross indicted in federal court on three federal charges of unlawfully carrying a weapon.

    This is the best bet for a long sentence. The feds will do what judges and prosecutors in TX refused to do.

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    VIP Member Array glock27mark's Avatar
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    bad and ugly

    tx. needs to do the tax payers and the world a favor.
    just get rid of this lowly scum of the earth.
    + + =
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    the world coming too"

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    Senior Member Array rmarkob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sig 210 View Post
    This is the best bet for a long sentence. The feds will do what judges and prosecutors in TX refused to do.
    I know - I thought Texas led the nation in the more permanent forms of justice. Didn't the phrase "he needed killin'" originate there?
    Clinging to guns and God in PA...

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    Member Array airbornerangerboogie's Avatar
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    Texas justice is lacking here, the varmit needs killing.
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    Member Array TRICKORMATE's Avatar
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    Is something wrong with the system?

    who's to blame for letting this dirtbag out of prison?

    if you admit it and they find you guilty you're toast.

    no more free passes out of jail/prison.
    Read my story.

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    Pictures in page 5 & 6

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