, Port Arthur, Texas

July 30, 2013

Trial date set for teacher accused of assault

Erinn Callahan
The Associated Press

PORT ARTHUR — The trial date for a longtime Port Arthur Independent School District teacher  has been set for Oct. 16 in Judge John Stevens’ courtroom at the Jefferson County Courthouse, 1149 Pearl Street, Beaumont.

Ruby Gunner, a fourth grade teacher at Robert E. Lee Elementary School, was accused of assaulting an 11-year-old student on April 5. Melissa Taylor, the student’s mother, told The News at a May 23 meeting of the PAISD board of trustees that, after a prior altercation with her son, Gunner entered another teacher’s classroom and began choking him. Gunner has maintained that her actions were out of self-defense.

Dockets will begin at 9 a.m., with the jury picking occurring at 1:30 p.m., according to assistant district attorney Patrick Knauth.

Knauth he has provided the defense with a copy of his file on the case, which, he said, will help them make an informed decision. He said the defense has not requested an offer.

Knauth will receive a copy of Gunner’s records from PAISD — which have been subpoenaed — and the defense will attempt to obtain the disciplinary records of the victim.

“I expect they'll try to get some sort of disciplinary problems, which may or may not exist,” Knauth said. “In the end, as a teacher, it was her job to deal with that. She had remedies.”

Knauth declined further comment on the details of the case.

“I'd rather say it in court,” he said. “I don't want to hurt the victim any further than he and his family have been hurt, and I don't want to infringe upon the rights of the defendant either.”

Paul Darrow, a Houston-based criminal defense attorney, is representing Gunner.

“We're not going to try the case in the media,” Darrow said in a telephone interview. “We look forward to presenting our case and proving Ms. Gunner's innocence.”


Twitter: @ErinnPA