By Robbie Byrd
Huntsville Item News Editor
Published: November 16, 2007 12:32 am
It was a little more than three years ago that two convicts at the Eastham Unit in Lovelady attacked two corrections officers, nearly bludgeoning them to death with a steel bar.
Last week, a trial ended that will most likely leave at least one of those convicts behind bars for the rest of his life.
Raymond Tyson Wingfield, 36, was convicted in Palestine last week for the 2004 beating of Texas Department of Criminal Justice officers Michael Mowry, 50, and James Baker, 58.
Wingfield was sentenced to two 4-year and two 25-year terms to be served concurrently on two charges of aggravated assault on a public servant, one count of attempted escape and a couple of aggravated assaults against another convict.
Wingfield’s cohort in the escape and beatings, Dalton David Collins, 36, took a plea bargain in 2004 and received an additional 40 years to his outstanding life sentence for murder. He is not eligible for parole.
But Wingfield was, at least until last week. He was slated to be released in 2062, with the option of an early release on parole in 2032 for murder, attempted murder and retaliation charges.
But Mark Mullin, the prosecutor with the prison system’s Special Prosecution Unit, said now that day will probably never come.
Mowry, who spent nearly a month in a hospital following the attack, said he is hopeful that Wingfield’s new charges will help place him in a more constricted environment to keep other corrections officers and offenders safe.
“I want all those (corrections officers) to know that the guy was convicted and he is sentenced to more years (but) he’ll always have that designator code that he assaulted staff,” Mowry said. “Hopefully they will keep him housed properly ... so that he won’t be able to assault anyone else.”
Collins struck Mowry — a food service manager for the unit at the time — with a pipe fitting wrapped in an apron. Another inmate attempted to stop Collins, and he was beaten as well. Wingfield then joined Collins and attacked Baker, stripping both officers of their identification, uniform and keys.
So many well-wishers called to check in on the two at hospitals caring for Mowry and Baker that hospital officials and family requested all calls go through TDCJ.
Mowry said he was re-assigned to desk work after the attack and that he still suffers from severe headaches and a loss of smell.
“But cup half full, I’m still alive and I’ve still got my kids and wife,” Mowry said, who now lives in Huntsville with his wife Nancy, a purchasing agent at Region 6 Education Service Center. “It could always be a lot worse.”
Mowry said he hopes the conviction will remind people of the dangerous job facing corrections officers.
“Correctional people get a bad rap for whatever reason,” Mowry said. “What they do is very difficult and they’re still underpaid.
“They’re doing such a great service to our society, people can’t even comprehend.”