Sexual assault convictions upheld

Jeffrey Ross Seery
Jeffrey Ross Seery

Henderson County District Attorney’s Office press release

The Twelfth Court of Appeals in Tyler last week affirmed Jeffrey Ross Seery’s Sexual Assault convictions from January of 2011. Seery was convicted on three counts of sexual assault and sentenced to the maximum (20 years in prison) on each count by a Henderson County Jury. After the sentencing, Judge Tarrance of the 392nd District Court, ordered that the sentences be stacked (run consecutively). Seery appealed his convictions citing that certain testimony should not have been heard by the jury and that some of his evidence, which was kept from the jury, should not have been. District Attorney Scott McKee and Assistant District Attorney Nancy Rumor prosecuted the week-long case.

Seery was arrested on Sept. 27, 2009 by Henderson County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responding to a call reporting that a 14-year-old girl had been assaulted at a residence on State Highway 31 near Athens. The case was then assigned to Investigator Ceresa Ballard, who specialized in crimes against children. Ballard was assisted in the investigation by Captain Bryan Tower, also of the Henderson County Sherriff’s Office.

The officers arrested Seery at the scene on an existing warrant, and transported him to the Henderson County Jail.

HCSO reports said authorities also found two hand grenades, and a small amount of marijuana at the residence. Local officers notified the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Tyler which took possession of the grenades.

Evidence gathered during the search of the residence was presented to Precinct 6 Justice of the Peace Million Adams who issued a warrant for Seery’s arrest. Officers executed the sexual assault warrant on Seery while he was still in custody on the escape charge.

During the trial, the jury heard testimony from the victim who emotionally detailed her relationship with Seery and described how he groomed her from a young age to eventually engage in sexual acts with him. Other witnesses testified that Seery claimed to be a high ranking special-forces paratrooper who suffered from PTSD, even going so far as to have a going away party for him because he claimed that he was about to be deployed to Afghanistan.

District Attorney McKee, a former paratrooper and Iraq War Veteran, rebutted Seery’s claims by introducing Seery’s military record which indicated that he was never in combat and was discharged as a private from the military for various infractions.

The State also introduced evidence to the jury that Seery had fooled many people into believing his military stories and that he used this ruse to separate his victim from her mother.

McKee said he was pleased with the opinion of the Court of Appeals.

“As the legal referee in a trial, the trial judge has a legal duty to decide which evidence is lawfully admissible and which is not,” said McKee.

McKee indicated that in most cases, in evaluating an appeal, the law presumes that the trial judge is in the best position to determine what evidence is admissible and what is not. “We have complete faith that the judge was correct on his rulings and the Court of Appeals decision affirms this.”

Seery can still petition the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the decision.

Obituary Haneva Simmons

Haneva Simmons, 78, of Malakoff was born on Sept. 4, 1934 in Three Rivers, Texas to the home of Hughey Robinson and Evie Loraine Mowles; and passed away on Feb. 21, 2013 in Malakoff.

Most of us will remember Mrs. Simmons as “the Tamale Lady.” She made delicious handmade tamales and sold them around the lake for years.

She is preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Homer T. Simmons; brothers, J.D. Robinson Sr., Bud Robinson; brothers, Johnny Hawthorn, Garland Andrew Hawthorn, and Fred Hawthorn; sister, Verdie Allen; children, Fred Wayne Berry and Mary Ann Hays.

Left to cherish her memory are her children, Ruby Lee Hays Insell and husband Huey, John Wayne Hays Sr. and wife Felicia, Billy Hays and wife, Angie, Elizabeth Ann Hays Fagan; brothers, Charlie Paul Hawthorn, Joe Everitt Hawthorn, and Oscar Jim Hawthorn; sisters, Mary Pearl Powell, Louise Harris, Lois Ann Green, Bessie Lee Follet; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held noon–2 p.m. before the funeral.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, March 1, 2013 at Moorhead Epps Memorial Chapel under the direction of Moorhead Epps Funeral Home.

Obituary: Rafael Rangel Pizana

Memorial services for Rafael Rangel Pizana, 71, will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 at the Kiwanis Park Pavilion in Athens.

Mr. Pizana died Feb. 23, 2013 in Athens. He was born Feb. 15, 1942 in Bend, Texas to the late Julian and Delfina Rangel Pizana.

Rafael formerly resided in Corpus Christi three years, Woodburn, Oregon six years, Sinton, Texas six years and moved to Tyler in 2011 from Portland, Oregon where he had lived since 1985. He was a retired Aviation Mechanic. A well decorated U.S. Army Veteran , Rafael served three tours of duty with the 82nd Airbourne in Vietnam and was a prisoner of war for three months.

Survivors include his wife Maureen Mary Pizana; sons, Ralph Pizana, Madisonville, Daniel Pizana, Shannon Pizana, both of Portland, Oregon; daughter, Caprice Christopher and husband John, Tyler; brother, Pete Pizana, Victoria; sisters, Norma Lucio, Gloria Ciarese, Tina Aguillar, all of Corpus Christi, Rosil Gonzales, Salem, Oregon; 12 grandchildren.

Obituary: Mary Ruth Byrd Jackson

Mary Ruth Byrd Jackson
Mary Ruth Byrd Jackson

Services for Mary Ruth Byrd Jackson, 96, of Athens are scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday in Carroll-Lehr Funeral Chapel with Rev. Charles Parker officiating.

Burial will follow in Oaklawn Memorial Park in Athens.

Mrs. Jackson died Feb. 23, 2013 in Athens.

She was born Nov. 19, 1916 in Corsicana to the late Walter and Bliss Nevada Hunt Byrd. She was a 1935 graduate of Corsicana High School. Mary moved to Athens in 1947. She retired from Vassarette of Munsingwear, Inc. after a 35-year tenure. She was a 57-year member of Central Baptist Church. Mary was preceded in death by her husband Ernest Ray Jackson, Dec. 7, 1965, an infant brother Billy Byrd, brother Charles Byrd and sister Margie Little.

Survivors include son Ernest Ray Jackson and wife Keitha, Arp; daughter Mary Crossley and husband Kenneth, Conroe; sister Christian Williams, Corsicana; grandchildren, Diane Jackson and husband Paul Twomey, Lori Jackson and husband Tim Ehmke, Michelle Crossley and husband Manny Angulo, Brent Crossley and wife Brandie; great-grandsons, Ross Ward and Alex Crossley; numerous nieces and nephews.

Family will greet friends at the funeral home 12:30 p.m. until service time Tuesday.

If desired, memorials may be made to Central Baptist Church, P O Box 590, Athens, Texas 75751.

You may leave a message of condolence or light a memorial candle at

Daily Brief: Monday, Feb. 25

Mia Orosco was last year's winner of the Old Fiddlers' Reunion. This year's event will be held on Saturday. (MICHAEL V. HANNIGAN PHOTO)
Mia Orosco was last year’s winner of the Old Fiddlers’ Reunion. This year’s event will be held on Saturday. (MICHAEL V. HANNIGAN PHOTO)


1. The annual Old Fiddlers Reunion has been moved to Saturday this year. 

2. Athens ISD promoted Dr. Janie Sims to assistant superintendent and Winston McCowan to principal of the Middle School.

3. Henderson County high school sports is moving on to softball, baseball and track … except in Mabank, where the Panthers are scheduled to play in the Regional Quarterfinal tomorrow night. The Panthers will take on Pleasant Grove at 7 p.m. in Hallsville. Mabank advanced by beating Wills Point Friday night. 

4. The Athens City Council will convene for its regular meeting 5:30 p.m. tonight. Action setting up the May election is on the agenda, along with a possible $95,500 low-interest loan (3 percent) from the EDC to Lone Star Housing.

5. McAlister’s in Athens will be closed this week for renovations. 


Athens girls powerlifters headed to regionals. 

The Henderson County Black History Committee held its annual Scholarship Banquet Saturday night. 

The Keep Athens Beautiful Home and Garden Show was Saturday. 

A lot of local kids took part in a one-day basketball camp hosted by the TVCC Lady Cardinals. 


The Henderson County Performing Arts Center is set to open its Black Box season next weekend. (The Review)

Ken Holder is named the new police chief in Eustace. (The Monitor)

If you need something added to the Daily Brief, just click “Contact” in the menu bar and let us know.

You can get the Daily Brief in your inbox, Monday through Friday. Just add your email in the form below and let Henderson County Now come to you.