‘We turned tragedy into triumph’: Central Texas criminal arrested 50 times in 30 years says he’s turning his life around

WACO, TX (KWTX) – Laron Dwayne Hicks is so incarcerated that he is on the same name as most of the jailers and many of the Waco police officers.

A McGregor native and six-time convicted felon, Hicks, 48, estimates he’s been arrested at least 50 times during his three-decade run of drinking and drug addiction.

But instead of going to prison for 25 years, as the former administration of the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office had offered him, Hicks accepted the offer and now has a new life after nearly three years of being clean and sober. to those who want to help him that he is well on his way to change his life.

“The common denominator in my criminal history was drugs and alcohol,” Hicks said this week. “And it was, first of all, alcohol. I drank for more than 30 years, it turned into drug use and just a lifestyle that was harmful to me all the way. I had experience in prison. Only all negative things , which you can relate to with drugs and alcohol, I’m sure I’ve experienced it.

Full interview with Laron Dwayne Hicks:

Judge David Hodges, who presides over one of McLennan County’s probate courts, has been monitoring Hicks in his court, monitoring his progress, and keeping five serious charges hanging over his head to give Hicks more incentive to get on the right track and stay on track. stay right. side of the law.

Hicks had a felony DWI conviction from 2018 and was charged as a habitual offender due to his prior offenses. He also faces a felony count of residential burglary, possession of methamphetamine, possession of cocaine, and a charge of retaliation pending in 2020.

Because of the changes in Hicks’ life and his continued sobriety, Judge Hodges accepted the recommendation of prosecutor Will Hicks and placed Hicks on probation this week after Hicks waived the common and enhancement charges and dismissed the cocaine charge as part of a plea deal. put

“Laron is the best example I know of someone who has earned the opportunity he was given with his passion and dedication to recovery,” Hicks said. “I wanted to follow where his story goes from here.”

Hicks has been in prison for burglary and car theft and has nearly 20 felony convictions, many of which may be related to drug abuse. He said he is grateful to those who believed in him and supported his journey to sobriety, including Judge Hodges and his staff; his attorney, Darren Obenoski; drug and alcohol counselors in the county jail and beyond; and Waco Police Sgt. Chet Long.

“All the jailers know me by name,” Hicks said. “They all supported my change, my progress. As a team, we turned tragedy into victory, I say. Every day is a struggle and a conscious war, but we have come a long way. We still have a long way to go, but I feel we are on the right track.”

Long and others were in court Thursday to support Hicks. Uzok declined to comment because he said he was not authorized by the police department to talk about the case.

“What happened was I got hit by a real firestorm, but Chet Long at the Waco Police Department gave me an ultimatum,” Hicks said. “He said you’re either going to get help or next time you’re going to jail – this was during the pandemic and I got off pretty easy – he said we’re going to set the bond so high that you can’t get out. “.

Long told her a story that “sparked a fire inside of me,” she said. She declined to share what Long told her, but said, “I have an 8-year-old son and he told me a story that I wanted to fight and be a better person for my little boy.”

Hicks has been working as a mechanic at Time Manufacturing for almost a year. Prior to that, he worked for the City of Waco Solid Waste Management for several years.

“In my opinion, I believe that God and his divine wisdom put together all the pieces of this puzzle and all the people who came into my life to help me achieve this goal. All the glory to God,” Hicks said.

Hodges said the county commissioners, in partnership with the Waco Police Department, developed a program several years ago to identify what Hodges called “frequent offenders,” criminals like Hicks who are mostly returning to their homes because of substance abuse issues. They returned to prison. Commissioners wanted to know why they were returning to prison and what could be done to change the course of their lives.

Full interview with Judge David Hodges:

“That’s why Laron Hicks was one of the first people to be targeted by the Waco Police Department,” Hodges said. “He actually knows all the jailers in the prison because he’s been there many times. We put him out on what we call the PR bond program. We forced him to come to my court regularly, we put a monitor on him. But when he came to my court, one of the staff was already working with him in the prison. The prison has a prison sobriety program. He got sober in prison about three years ago and we’ve been monitoring him as a bail condition ever since.”

Hodges said he felt comfortable placing Hicks on probation — even with his extensive criminal history — because he has established a record of sobriety and proven he has changed.

“I hope this is the end of Laron’s time in prison because he’s done so well. He’s got a lot of supporters out there now and he’s clean and sober and doing well. He’s a great example of what you can do. you can, if you can put some resources and help somebody. So he’s a great success story.”

But what does Hicks have to say to those critics who think he should be locked up because of his long criminal record.

“I would say that God used the worst people in the Bible to push back and show an example of His power,” Hicks said. “There is a scripture that says: ‘His strength is made perfect in our weakness,’ and I feel that I am a testimony to that.” I’m not trying to force the Bible on anyone, but that’s just what I believe. And I believe that I am a living example of that.”

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