Jury declares Lyde guilty of official oppression

Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde appears in court.
Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde appears in court.(KAUZ)
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 12:02 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 12:07 PM CDT
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MONTAGUE COUNTY, Texas (KAUZ) - A Montague County jury has found suspended Clay County Sheriff Jeffery Lyde guilty of one count of Official Oppression and one count of Tampering with Governmental Records. The jury deliberated for roughly an hour.

The official oppression trial began earlier this week in Montague County. Lyde was charged with official oppression related to an alleged unlawful 2021 arrest of Landon Goad and Sara Johnson, who were arrested on family violence charges.

The two were reportedly held for longer than 48 hours, the maximum amount of time one can be jailed for that offense.

During closing arguments on Friday morning, prosecuting attorney Staley Heatly argued that Judge Swenson believed there was no probable cause to arrest Goad and Johnson. He claimed that 17 days before Goad and Johnson’s arrest, Lyde released Aaron Saldana from jail with no help from a judge.

Heatly states Judge Swenson called a few times to magistrate Goad and Johnson that weekend but was told multiple times that the probable cause affidavit wasn’t ready. Swenson went to the jail that weekend to magistrate someone else and asked for the probable cause for Goad and Johnson but was told there wasn’t one.

Heatly said the affidavit wasn’t ready until Monday after 3:30 p.m. The form the sheriff used at the magistrate, which was given to Judge Campbell, had the incorrect hours written on the form for Goad and Johnson. The listed hours showed 48 hours, and Goad and Johnson were held for 70 hours.

Heatly replayed a phone call Lyde made where Lyde called Goad and Johnson “[expletive] meth heads” while laughing throughout the call.

Defense attorney Robert Estrada argued this case was not based on Aaron Saldana. Instead, He said that it’s a case of mistakes and misconceptions. Estrada told the jury that Lyde’s actions were not intentional and to prove official oppression, there has to be intent.

He argued that Lyde did not mean to detain Goad longer than the law requires for their charges; he just wanted to ensure they had the proper forms to release Goad and Johnson. He said Lyde wanted to make a lawful release.

News Channel 6 multimedia journalist Chantale Belefanti is in the courtroom covering the latest developments. Be sure to stick with News Channel 6 as we work to learn more about Lyde’s sentencing.