Polk County Criminal District Attorney
William Lee Hon
Nathanial J. Whitaker
Sentenced 25 years TDCJ
Mashaw R. Tucker
Sentenced 10 years TDCJ

Polk County Criminal District Attorney's Office

Press Release

October 15, 2009

 

Two young Polk County criminals received stiff prison sentences in district court yesterday for robberies committed early in 2009.  Nathaniel Jamon Whitaker (19) and Mashaw Rashad Tucker (18) were sentenced to 25 and 10 years respectively.  Each will be eligible for parole after serving one-half of the sentence.

 

In January and February of this year a rash of robberies were reported to the Livingston Police Department.  In these cases the victims were all young males who were approached by the defendants and others in public places.  They were threatened, assaulted and then robbed.  In one case the victim was struck repeatedly by the two defendants with what appeared to be baseball bats.

 

The police department's investigation identified Whitaker and Tucker as two of the assailants.  A third participant has now been identified and is expected to be arrested shortly.  Both Whitaker and Tucker have extensive histories with juvenile authorities.  Both were placed on probation for multiple burglaries in recent years and both violated those probations repeatedly and were eventually committed to the Texas Youth Commission (reform school) for approximately one year.  Both had serious episodes of violence at the Livingston Public Schools including threats and actual violence against school officials and other students.  In fact, Whitaker's commitment to the youth commission was for an attack on a teacher's aide.

 

Tucker pled guilty to the charges and requested his sentence be determined by a district judge.  Whitaker pled not guilty but was found guilty by a jury on September 9, 2009.  Both cases were set for a punishment hearing on October 14, 2009.

 

The defendants' former juvenile probation officer testified concerning repeated attempts that were made to assist the young men to modify their behavior and their eventual failure to conform to the terms of juvenile probation.

 

Testimony was also received concerning an incident in October, 2005 during  which Mashaw Tucker became angry at a teacher, cursing him and threatening him. Tucker then punched a hole in the wall near the teacher's head. This behavior resulted in Tucker being sent to the youth commission. The next day Whitaker threatened another teacher, saying "I'll knock a hole in your head like Mashaw did."

 

In April, 2006 a teacher's aide was in the process of trying to recover a bag of marijuana from a student who was attempting to swallow it.  Whitaker pushed her against a wall and grabbed her hand bending her thumb in a manner that caused severe pain.  Whitaker said he was merely trying to reach his friend in order to pat him on the back so he would not choke.  He had no explanation for why it was necessary to bend the aide's thumb.  Following a jury trial in May, 2006 Whitaker joined his friend at the youth commission.

 

The teacher's aide also testified that Whitaker was a constant behavior problem, continuously disrespectful, fighting with other students and often bullying others, taking their property and money.  Marty Drake and Chad Lilly, Livingston Police Department school resource officers at Livingston Junior High and Livingston High respectively, testified concerning the defendants' behavior at those schools.

 

A Polk County adult probation officer testified that she had supervised Whitaker on a possession of marijuana charge from July, 2008 out of Nacogdoches County.  Whitaker has committed numerous and repeated violations and is facing a motion to revoke that probation.

 

Whitaker took the stand in his defense and admitted he was present for two of the robberies but denied any involvement.  He admitted that he has behavior problems due to his attention deficit and bipolar disorders.  He does not take his medication because it causes him to lose appetite and weight.  On cross examination by assistant district attorney Joe Martin, Whitaker was presented with two letters he had written while in jail.  In each letter he blamed the conduct on Tucker and said he and the third individual were forced to participate by him.  Whitaker said that Tucker was a member of the criminal street gang, Gangsta Disciples, and had told them that he had killed two people.  Whitaker also told of certain "G.D." tattoos that he said Tucker had on his chest.  Whitaker did not explain why a person like himself, with such a history of violent behavior could be so easily intimidated by a lifelong friend.  He also did not explain why the victims had identified him as one of their attackers.

 

Whitaker's grandmother and caretaker, Carrie Carter, testified in his behalf.  She stated she had raised him since he was abandoned by his parents at an early age.  She did not believe he was capable of robbery.  She specifically said she did not believe that he had committed the attack against the teacher's aide or many of the other things that he was accused of.  Under cross examination she related an incident while Whitaker was out on bond when $2,000 of her social security savings disappeared from her house while Whitaker was there.

 

Tucker did not testify but his sister, Tabitha Tucker told the court that she had raised him since age 11 when their mother went to prison.  She was 17 at the time. The mother is now in prison for capital murder.  Their father has never been involved in their life.  Ms. Tucker made no excuses for his conduct but said she believed she could handle Tucker if he were given probation.  However, she acknowledged she had not been able to prevent him from violating his probation while a juvenile.  She also stated that Tucker did have the tattoos on his chest, but did not believe he was a member of the Gangsta Disciples.  She pled with the judge stating that "he is all that me and my three sons have."

 

Assistant District Attorney Joe Martin expressed satisfaction with the sentences, stating, "My firm belief is that if these young men had not been taken off the streets their violence would have escalated to the point that we would have ended up with a death or a serious injury.  Further, their behavior, if not dealt with severely, encourages others to do the same. Simply put, we want the message sent that we will not tolerate this kind of violence in our community.  The best way for that message to get out is tough sentences like those handed down in these cases."