Court rules on appeal of Orange County man convicted of firing at deputy

Published 12:20 am Saturday, April 6, 2024

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The Court of Appeals Ninth District of Texas at Beaumont has denied an Orange County man’s request in a ruling handed down last week.

Joshua Michael Sykes was indicted for attempted capital murder and convicted of a lesser charge of aggravated assault against a peace officer, also a first-degree felony.

Sykes was sentenced to 50 years in prison last year.

Sykes appealed the conviction, contending the trial court erred in failing to submit a jury charge regarding the lesser-included offense of deadly conduct, according to court files. That appeal as denied

The crime

On April 1, 2020, on Highway 12 near Vidor, police said Sykes was moving around outside his mobile home carrying a rifle in a mobile home park.

At some point, he blocked the roadway.

When asked to move, Sykes reportedly told the driver of the vehicle if the driver honked his horn at him one more time, he was going to shoot him, a court document contended.

The driver called 911 to report the man with the gun, and Orange County Sheriff’s Office Deputy John Ware responded to the report of a suspicious person.

The deputy arrived and saw Sykes’ trailer with the door partially open and a window open.

As Ware moved past the home, the door opened wider. Ware reversed and pulled to a stop at an angle with his vehicle dash cam pointing directly at the home to wait for backup.

“In the video shown to the jury, without objection, the door to the trailer suddenly closed and seconds later shots were fired through the wall into Ware’s vehicle,” according to the document.

Ware immediately left the scene and called for assistance from a location across the street.

Summaries of officers’ testimonies show multiple officers joined Ware.

Ware and crisis negotiators initially contacted Sykes with a remove-controlled robot with video and audio capability. Sykes expressed frustration with the government but did not surrender.

Efforts to de-escalate the situation were unsuccessful so a tactical team was called in to negotiate with Sykes. After a period of time Sykes exited the home and was taken into custody.

Sykes testified that on the day of the shooting he intended to shoot himself because of what he perceived as “military sound waves” in his ear but shot through the wall of the trailer instead.

He said he would never hurt anyone except in self-defense and denied he knew Ware was outside the home at the time he fired his weapon.

He also denied he shot at Ware’s vehicle but did admit he was reckless in firing his weapon.

“According to Sykes his social media references to killing people meant putting them on the right path, rather than ending their lives,” a court document read.

He also testified he was the treasurer of the United States, that the Bush family stole his family’s mineral interests and he was affiliated with the FBI and Seal Team Six.

The appeals court ruled that Sykes failed to show he was entitled to the requested jury instruction on deadly conduct.

Sykes will continue to serve his 50-year sentence.

— Written by Mary Meaux