MONTAGUE COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — A jury of 9 women and 3 men has found suspended Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde guilty of crimes committed when he was sheriff in 2021.
The jury began deliberating in the Montague County Courthouse around 10:30 Friday morning after hearing closing arguments from Special Prosecutor Staley Heatly and Lyde’s defense attorney Bob Estrada.
They returned the verdicts about an hour later.
Lyde is charged with official oppression and tampering with records, related to two Henrietta residents who were allegedly held in jail longer than allowed without due process.
Heatly, the district attorney in Wilbarger County, told the jury Lyde thinks he is above the law and wanted to keep the couple in jail as long as possible after their arrests in a domestic disturbance call.
Estrada pointed out Lyde was out of town when they were arrested and was unaware or confused on how long they had been behind bars.
He said John Swenson, the justice of the peace charged with handling the case, could have written an order to release them when he found problems with the probable cause affidavit.
Whether, as Lyde testified, he was confused or unclear on the law and rights of suspects, Heatly told jurors Lyde knew what he was doing was wrong, concealed the affidavit and then lied to cover up his wrongdoing.
Lyde faces up to a year in jail, and, according to court officials, a conviction is grounds for his permanent removal from office. Sentencing by the judge has tentatively been set for Tuesday, October 10, 2023.
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