Family of man sentenced to 80 years for drugs wants conviction overturned

Relatives of a man who was ordered to serve eight decades in prison are fighting for Texas  officials to overturn his conviction.

Anwar Holmes was stopped in Upshur County, Texas, by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper July 2, 2017, after a road-rage encounter with a white woman. Authorities said Holmes threw a beer bottle during the incident and reportedly cracked the driver’s windshield. He was arrested on drug possession charges after the trooper reportedly found Holmes in possession of 16 grams of cocaine during the traffic stop. A jury of 11 whites and one Black juror convened for a penalty phase after a one-day trial and found the truck driver guilty of possession of a controlled substance Penalty Group 1 between 4 and 300 grams, issuing a sentence of 80 years.

“An 80-year sentence, a justifiable 80-year sentence for a drug possession? Maybe for a kingpin, maybe for El Chapo,” Deric Muhammad, a community advocate, told ABC 7 in November.

During the punishment phase of the one-day trial, the prosecution said Holmes had prior convictions of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and assault on a public servant, and he had previously served three years in a Texas prison.

“What upsets me the most is the time doesn’t fit the crime,” said Rea Bean, Holmes’ aunt. “If he was out there killing someone or doing something that would justify an 80-year life term sentence, we wouldn’t be here today. This is totally unfair, but we want it to be overturned and we believe it will be overturned.”

The entire Holmes family is fighting for the defendant’s sentence to be overturned.

“I’m telling him, we are fighting for you,” said Tunisha Holmes, the trucker’s wife. “There are a lot of people who are outraged, you have your family behind you. We are not sitting silent.”

Relatives of Holmes described him as a “loving, caring” family man.