At the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in August, the second annual Prosecutor of the Year Award was presented to a gentleman named Wiley McAfee. He goes by “Sonny” and is the District Attorney for Blanco, Burnet, Llano and San Saba Counties.
TPWD created this award to honor prosecutors that had been particularly active in game, fish and park enforcement cases. Mr. McAfee’s district encompasses a high population of white-tailed deer, Rio Grande turkeys and several of the Highland Lakes chocked full of game fish – fertile ground for poachers.
McAfee was well -suited to be a district attorney since he had a law enforcement background, having served 20 years on the Houston Police Force. This no doubt aided in investigating and preparing felony cases.
Several high-profile cases have arisen in his district. One involved the conviction of an intoxicated boater who crashed into a Marble Falls police captain during a holiday weekend. Another case that infuriated many Texans was the defacing of boulders at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Guess the local water tower had already been painted.
But most recently, he successfully opposed a motion for early release from probation of a man convicted of a hit-and-run boating case on Lake Buchanan resulting in a death. Some would have preferred the keys to the jail be thrown away in that one.
Three popular Lampasas high school kids – two boys and a girl – had gone fishing one night near their graduation. One was a boy planning to attend A&M to study to be a game warden. They were expected to be home by a certain time but called their parents for permission to stay a little longer. The fish had just started biting.
As they were fishing, a boat roared through the darkness toward them. It crashed over their boat, knocking the girl unconscious, knocking one boy into the water and killing the prospective game warden. The boy knocked into the water was suffering from hypothermia when found alive the next morning. The girl was still in the fishing boat and later remembered seeing a blue boat striking them. Blue paint scrapes were also found on their fishing boat. She remembered hearing the offending boat’s motor restarted. It drove off, leaving them adrift in the dark.
A massive effort was launched by law enforcement. Warden Jim Lindeman meticulously studied boating accidents and became an expert. Many tips and witnesses were investigated. Posters asked for information. Time passed, but no suspect surfaced.
Ten years later, someone overheard a conversation at a party about a local man who once had a blue boat that no one had seen lately. She called a game warden the next day.
The suspect broke down during the interrogation and confessed. His land was excavated and the blue boat unearthed. Convicted, he was sentenced to 100 days in jail and probation.
McAfee successfully opposed a motion for early release as a “model probationer”. He hadn’t been D.A. during the first trial.
Too bad he wasn’t.
John Jefferson is a lifelong outdoorsman, former regulations coordinator at Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept., past executive director of the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and author of two books on Texas hunting.