By MELINDA WILLIAMS
A Pulaski sex offender received the maximum sentence Monday for violating probation for the fourth time in just over seven years.
“I really don’t believe in a third violation,” Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Marcus Long Jr. told 29-year-old Raymond Virgil Houston II. “A fourth (violation) is a total disregard for probation.”
Houston had five years, nine months of prison time that had been suspended on 2006 convictions of aggravated sexual battery and failure to register as a sex offender. The judge revoked the entire suspended sentence and ordered Houston to serve it consecutively to any other sentences he may receive.
Judge Long noted that he deviated upward from the recommendation under Virginia sentencing guidelines “due to his total disregard for probation.” Whenever judges deviate from the guidelines they are required to state their reason.
According to probation officer Vanessa Duncan, Houston also was returned to the court in 2009, 2011 and 2012 for violating conditions of probation. In all three incidents, one of the conditions he violated was a requirement to notify her anytime he moved to another residence.
His most recent violation was the result of visits to Randolph Park. Duncan pointed out sex offenders are not allowed to frequent areas where children gather, so Houston is prohibited from going to the park.
She learned Houston went there June 17 when probation office employees checked Houston’s GPS (global positioning system) map to see where he had been. The GPS maps are checked daily to monitor the movements of sex offenders.
Houston was placed under court order to wear a GPS monitoring device at all times when he failed to register as a sex offender.
Thinking Houston may not have fully understood that he cannot go to the park, Duncan didn’t file a probation violation against him after the first visit. Instead, she reminded him he is not allowed to go there. Houston was arrested when he returned to Randolph Park in July, after Duncan warned him to stay away.
Other probation conditions Houston violated, according to Duncan, included having a two-year-old child living with him and a female in February and failure to make any payments on nearly $3,000 in court costs since 2005.
On cross-examination by defense attorney Courtney Griffin, Duncan agreed Houston has not found employment to pay the court costs. She also acknowledged that Houston’s sister has agreed to provide him a stable residence and help him make the payments if he were released from custody.
However, Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor told the judge Houston is “no longer a suitable candidate for probation” because he “refuses to do what he’s told.”
He added, “Once again we find ourselves with a sex offender not complying with conditions of probation. … It’s bad enough this is his fourth revocation, but you would think he could have at least made one payment (on court costs) in seven to eight years.”
Griffin pointed out Houston took responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty to violating probation. She also noted that he now has family support. “The state gains nothing to keep him locked up so he can’t pay,” she said.