Posted on 9/17/18

Mark is a hard-working financial planner who lives in the Dallas suburbs with his wife and two daughters. He lives in a quaint, upper middle class neighborhood that is peaceful and has low crime. He makes a good salary and is able to provide his family with a good life. Some time ago, he told his wife that she should quit her job because he makes enough to support their lifestyle, which includes each parent driving a luxury car and a summer vacation in Europe or other exotic place.

Lisa, Mark’s wife, takes care of the house and is the parent who sees her girls off to school in the morning. Recently, Mark and Lisa decided to upgrade their home by adding a deck in the back, digging a swimming pool, and renovating the kitchen. To accomplish this, they hired Ben, a contractor. Ben had a reputation for being very good and very hands-on when completing a task. Other people in the neighborhood also used Ben and gave him high marks.

Ben met with Mark and Lisa and gave them an estimate. Shortly after, the parties agreed to terms and Ben attained approvals for the upgrades. He had materials delivered to the house and brought in a crew that would perform different aspects of the work at the relevant stage. Mark trusted Ben and did not involve himself in the construction.

On day, Mark phoned Lisa that he would be home late due to a pressing client matter. This happened from time to time. Lisa asked what time to expect Mark and he stated between 9:30 and 10 pm. That night, Mark pulled up to his block and approached his house at approximately 9:20 pm when he saw Ben leave the house and get into his truck. Mark thought that this was odd. He later questioned Lisa about it and she responded that Ben came back to check on the water system.

The next day, Mark called Lisa to say that he would be home late again due to the same pressing client matter. Mark said he would be home after 10 pm. At 9:50 that night, Mark pulled up to his house to see Ben leave the house again. Mark was suspicious.

The following day, Mark told his boss that he was not feeling well and returned home at approximately 2 pm to find Ben and the workers in the house. He went upstairs and saw that Lisa was in her robe, which was odd given the time of day. He strongly suspected that Ben and Lisa were having an affair.

At this point, Mark left threatening messages on Ben’s voice mail. He claimed to be a Private Investigator and threatened to tell Ben’s wife about his affair with a client. He used a throwaway email to send emails to Ben claiming to be a PI that knew what he was doing. In those emails, he threatened to kill Ben’s kids unless he stops his affair immediately. He sent several of similar emails over the next several weeks

Ben went to the police to show them the emails. Police traced the emails to Mark and arrested him for stalking.

Stalking in Texas

Under Texas law, stalking is when someone knowingly engages in behavior that others find threatening and gives them reason to be afraid. It would be up to the jury to determine if Ben, in this case, had good reason to be afraid. If convicted, Mark would go to jail, convicted of a third degree felony.

Accused of a crime? Contact the law firm of Christopher Abel.

(image courtesy of Jesse Orrico)

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