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Hicks sentenced to life in prison for 2019 murder

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By Chris Edwards

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 Blaze HicksBlaze HicksWOODVILLE – A jury handed down a guilty verdict and life sentence to Blaze Hicks for the 2019 murder of Brandon Wood.

Hicks, 29, a Silsbee man, stood trial last week in a five-day trial before District Judge Delinda Gibbs-Walker. The verdict and sentence were both handed down on Friday, Feb. 11 in the District Courtroom inside the Tyler County Courthouse. 

Tyler County’s District Attorney Lucas Babin said the conviction was a victory for law enforcement in the county and added that “East Texas is safer now that Blaze Hicks has been removed from society.”

Babin said that during the trial, evidence made a case that Hicks had a long history of violence prior to the murder of 28-year-old Wood on the afternoon of Sept. 23, 2019.

During trial, more than 20 witnesses and 45 different pieces of evidence exhibited to the jury told the story of the day that Hicks traveled from Silsbee to Warren looking for Wood. The story that unfolded in the courtroom showed that Hicks carried a loaded .22 rifle with him and began firing at Wood, who was unarmed, shortly after he saw him.

Hicks shot Wood four times in the back and fled the scene, and although he got away, he dropped his cellphone in the process. That phone was recovered by law enforcement later, and it contained a selfie of Hicks on its home-screen, according to Babin.

Wood was able to dive into the woods after being shot and ran a short distance before collapsing. Some bystanders attempted CPR on him until paramedics arrived. Wood was later pronounced dead at Tyler County Hospital. 

The witnesses on the scene, who heard multiple gunshots and saw Hicks’s vehicle leave the scene and a high rate of speed, described Hicks’s truck, a black pickup with the phrase “Break ya Neck” emblazoned on the windshield. He was arrested later that day in Silsbee by deputies with the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office. 

Hicks attempted to tell law enforcement that he had not left Silsbee that day, and that his truck was in the driveway all day, however, security camera footage from a business near the Tyler/Hardin county line showed otherwise.

First Assistant DA Pat “Hawk” Hardy added that Newton County deputy Keith Franklin was also a valuable contributor to making the case against Hicks.

“This was a team effort to get a dangerous individual off the street,” Hardy said.

Brian Seales, who worked at the time for TCSO as an investigator, had recovered two .22-caliber cartridges from Hicks’s truck, as well as two additional cartridges at the crime scene, which were sent to the DPS Crime Lab for forensic analysis. Upon testing, all four cartridges were determined to have been fired from the same gun.

Hicks, who was represented by Ryan Gertz, was originally set to stand trial last August, and then reset for September. At one point, last May, while he was being held in the Tyler County Jail, he and another inmate escaped, but were both caught later the same day in the Silsbee area.

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