By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – A Hillister man was convicted of a 2018 murder last week and will spend the remainder of his life behind bars.
Christopher Blake Paulette, 35, was found guilty by a Tyler County jury for the murder of 64-year-old Susan Morris of Onalaska in the courtroom of District Judge Delinda Gibbs-Walker. Paulette’s trial began last Monday and ended on Thursday.
Babin said that the death penalty was off the table for the capital murder case, and explained that seeking a life without parole sentence, was to save the taxpayers money. Babin added that Paulette still faces other felony charges in Tyler County.
The jury heard from 20 different witnesses and saw 40 exhibits during the trial. Babin and assistant DA Pat “Hawk” Hardy made the case against Paulette, one that included the kidnapping and torture, and eventual murder of Morris. Paulette caused her death by stomping her face and neck repeatedly with steel-toed boots.
“The evidence showed a pattern of kidnapping and torturing,” Babin said.
Tyler County Sheriff’s Office deputies Haiden Hughes, Josh Robison and James Cloyd, were all on the scene at Paulette’s residence on Dec. 21, 2018, when the investigation began, and testified as to what they saw. In the morning hours on that date, TCSO deputies responded to a panicked 911 call, which referenced a man being held against his will at Paulette’s Hillister residence.
Not only did the deputies find a man whose hands were bound, but they also found Paulette, armed with a loaded pistol equipped with a homemade silencer, and later, Morris’s body, which was hidden in the attic.
Jurors heard testimony as to the condition of the body, which was covered with attic insulation and blankets. Her hands had been bound to a support beam and her body showed evidence of trauma, with bruises and several burns.
Babin said the jury was attentive to the details of the case, which he was thankful. He also expressed gratitude to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford and TCSO deputies, as well as the other agencies who took part in the investigation, including the Texas Rangers, the ATF and the Beaumont Fire Marshal.
“East Texas is safer today now that Mr. Paulette has been removed from society,” Babin said. “Without their efforts this would not have been possible.”