ONLY ON ABC13: Murder victim's family upset after accused killer sentenced to probation

Mycah Hatfield Image
Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Murder victim's family upset after suspect sentenced to probation
A $10,000 drug deal turned into a double murder on Yoe Street back in 2014. Now, the only remaining defendant, Clyde Wortham, was given probation.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The family of one of the victims in a double murder is upset with the sentence handed down to one of the defendants by a judge.

In July 2014, police said Lonnie Jenkins and Billy Robinson went to a house on Yoe Street in northeast Houston to buy 25 lbs. of marijuana in exchange for $10,000. Rather than marijuana, they were sold hamster hay.

According to court records, Jenkins was robbed with a firearm and shot to death alongside Robinson at the home that same day.

A year and a half later, Clyde Wortham and Oliver Shepard were charged with capital murder in the case.

The case dragged on, and Jenkins' family said they were told Hurricane Harvey and the COVID-19 pandemic was partially to blame for the delays.

Court records show Shepard's case ended up being dropped last fall, citing insufficient evidence. He has not been charged again in the case.

Wortham took a plea agreement in May. In return for a guilty plea to aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, his capital murder charge was dismissed. His sentence was left up to Judge Melissa Morris.

After two days of testimony from law enforcement, witnesses, and family members, Morris sentenced him to 10 years deferred adjudication.

Jenkins' sister, Shalaine, and his mother, Toni, flew in from New York for the sentencing hearing.

His sister said she has been upset and angry since the judge's decision.

"So you're telling me a person that's there with a person who is committing a crime while someone gets murdered, and you only get probation?" Shalaine Jenkins questioned. "I never understood that."

The family was critical of several aspects of Morris' case handling. She is one of several judges who has presided over it since the charges were filed.

ABC13 asked Morris to comment on the sentencing decision but was told she could not.

In a transcript from the May 31 sentencing date, she said, "I have to say it's an unfair expectation for this court to punish murders on charges of aggravated robbery."

"I heard no evidence whatsoever of Mr. Wortham's participation that led to the murder of Mr. Robinson and Mr. Jenkins," the judge went on to say.

Legal analyst Steve Shellist reviewed the transcript and said, "It was clear that the judge knew she was about to make a very unpopular decision and that it was going to upset people, and she was just trying to do her best to justify her decision."

When asked if the murders should have been taken into account in the sentencing decision on the aggravated robbery charge, Shellist said, "It's a tricky one because he didn't plead to the capital murder. The defense attorney would argue and say we shouldn't be talking about that aspect of it."

Now, no one is being charged with the murders.

For more on this story, follow Mycah Hatfield on Facebook, X and Instagram.