Deep Ellum Assault Trial: Man acquitted of most serious charge

A Dallas County jury found a man seen on video beating a woman in Deep Ellum guilty of assault and obstruction.

Austin Shuffield was on trial for a 2019 fight that was captured on cellphone video. 

Jurors found him guilty of assault and obstruction but not guilty of the more serious aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge.

Shuffield reached a plea agreement after his conviction.

As part of the plea deal Shuffield agreed not to appeal his convictions. He received a 120-day jail term for the assault charge, probated for 2 years and a 5-year prison sentence for the obstruction case, which was probated for 5 years.

The probation will run concurrently, meaning Shuffiled will spend 5 years on probation.

Shuffield will have to serve 4 days in custody immediately for the assault charge, and he must plead guilty to a DWI charge in Collin County and receive a 90-day jail sentence.

As a part of the probation, Shuffield will have to carry around a portable alcohol monitor and blow into 4 times a day. He also is required to take drug and alcohol classes.

Prosecutors said Shuffield argued with L'Daijohnique Lee in Deep Ellum after she blocked the exit to a parking lot.

The video showed Shuffield knocking a phone out of Lee’s hand before she punched him. Shuffield responded by throwing five punches of his own.

The video also showed Shuffield pulling out a gun during the confrontation.

The defense argued police officers who watched the video did not think Shuffield committed a violent crime.

Lee said she was pleased with the deal the state cut with Shuffield, forcing him to serve some time in jail.

Trial evidence showed that on that night in March 2019 that no one mentioned Shuffield had a gun.

"Our position is still this was an overreach from the beginning," said defense attorney Rebekah Presltine. "This was a way to throw every aggravated or felony charge at Mr. Shuffield in order to increase the changes, or to satisfy a community that quite frankly three-and-a-half years ago was outraged. This is how we got here."

Russell Wilson was one of the special prosecutors for the case. 

"We then determined it was more efficient to reach an agreement with Mr. Shuffield and his counsel," he said.

During the trial, even though there was not a hate crime charge, Wilson told jurors that Shuffield marginalized Lee and that he acted like he was better than her. 

"And we reached an agreement that was similar to a person not convicted of an aggravated offense in Dallas County," he said.

"It’s obviously a difficult pill to swallow to be charged with and convicted of obstruction by simply tapping a phone," said defense attorney Scott Palmer. "I have never seen a felony charge for that conduct." 

Three years ago, Lee was charged by police with criminal mischief for smashing the windows on Shuffield's truck after the assault, but the Dallas County DA dropped that charge.

Lee did not say much when she talked with reporters. She only said that she is just ready to move on from this incident now that Shuffield will get some punishment. 

"It is what it is," she said. "At the end of the day, justice is served." 

Shuffield opted not to take the stand in his own defense.

Jurors deliberated for five hours Friday afternoon and then left for the weekend. They reached a verdict after deliberating for several more hours Monday morning.