Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series on the prosecutorial career of District Attorney Jason Cashon. In a recent interview, Cashon discussed past cases - from recent trials to crimes from his time as assistant district attorney - and opened up about how those cases have impacted him and his office.
For more than a decade, District Attorney Jason Cashon has been prosecuting cases in Erath County.
Cashon signed on as assistant district attorney in 2000 under former District Attorney John Terrill. He took the lead in January 2009 when he was sworn in as lead prosecutor in the 266th Judicial District Court.
In discussing the cases, Cashon did not need notes. He said these are just a few of the cases that will remain with him forever.
The case against Hatley was unique. The crime occurred long before Cashon began his legal career, but the defendant did not face justice until late 2007.
Almost three decades after Susan Jeanette Woods was murdered, Hatley pleaded guilty to the crime. Woods' body was found bound with her head in a bathtub of water by her father on July 31, 1987. She was believed to have been dead for three days.
Hatley pleaded guilty in exchange for a 30-year prison sentence - a sentence which was far too light, according to Cashon.
"The passage of time created a problem," Cashon said. "If we had known at the time of the case what we later learned, it would have been charged as a capital crime and he would have received life in prison or the death penalty."
It is a thought that still makes Cashon sick.
"It is like he was awarded for evading detention," Cashon said.
Hatley would have never been caught if not for forensic evidence and criminal databases. Old evidence found at the crime scene including Hatley's fingerprints were entered into a state database, which led to his arrest.
"He finally faced the justice system, but it just wasn't enough," Cashon said.
Bobby DeWeese and Zachary Smith
The impact brutal crimes have on families is the toughest evidence a prosecutor is faced with, according to Cashon.
Such was the case with the murders of Morgan Mill residents Jerry Thomas, 45, and Kelly Thomas, 41, in 2001. At the time, Cashon was the assistant district attorney and had been on the job for less than a year.
"It was my first brutal crime," Cashon said.
Bobby Landon DeWeese, "a troubled nephew," was 19 when he and a friend, Zachary Tyler Smith, killed the couple.
DeWeese pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two life terms.
A jury found Smith guilty and sentenced him to life in prison.
"It was still not enough," Cashon said, adding that his feelings were from a "human, not legal" perspective.
"What bothers me is the family. That Friday morning, the victims' daughter was bringing their granddaughter over for a visit," Cashon said. "They found Kelly - their mother and grandmother - on the ground full of holes. Jerry was inside, also shot to death. That horror is something that family will never forget."
Wesley Don Rhodes
The case against Rhodes, a father accused of sexually assaulting his own child, is an example of one of the cases that can never be won, Cashon said.
The offense reportedly occurred in 2005. Rhodes was arrested in August, 2007 and a jury convicted him later that year.
"Justice was served," he added. "A jury handed down the maximum sentence - 20 years. Still, I see the case as a horrible loss and it is one that will stick with me forever."
It was a single statement the victim, Rhodes' daughter, made from the witness stand that Cashon will never forget.
"She said, 'I don't have a father anymore, I wish I did, but I don't,'" Cashon recalled. "He went away, but in the end, it was nothing more than a number on paper. Her daddy is prison, he is gone, but he is dead to her forever."
That unrelenting recollection is common for Cashon when dealing with crimes against children.
"I am a father, husband, son and friend," he said. "This is not a job you can turn off. Crooks don't get the day off and we don't either."
Frank Webb and Ricardo Rodriguez
The deadly duo was charged with capital murder in the April 2007 slayings of Carlos Rios Garcia, 46, and his wife, Lucia, 41.
The bodies and bloody scene inside the family home on FM 205 were discovered by two of the couple's young children. The Garcia's 8-year-old son was awakened by the cries of his 2-year-old sister, who was "wandering around in her parents' blood," according to Cashon.
Their parents had been shot to death.
"I have images of that 2-year-old little girl in my head, crying and surrounded by her parents' blood," he said. "Maybe - hopefully - she won't remember."
Webb and Rodriguez pleaded guilty and were both sentenced to life in prison.
"The county was spared the expense of a trial, the defendants were given the maximum sentence - outside the death penalty - and those children escaped the added trauma that a trial and media coverage would have caused, but it wasn't enough," Cashon said. "Webb and Rodriguez are in prison for life, but that doesn't help the family."
While some of the cases he has prosecuted cause Cashon to lose sleep at night, he is confident his job is an important one. He does it for two reasons - to seek justice for crime victims and to give the community he serves a sense of security.
"You don't have to 'win' to help out the community," Cashon said.