A Houston man who used his job as an armed security guard to hunt women in remote east Harris County – including shackling and hog-tying at least one – has pleaded guilty to two murders, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Monday.
On the eve of trial, Steven Hobbs, 51, pleaded to the reduced charge of murder from capital murder in the death of Sara Sanford and to murder in the death of Patricia Pyatt.
The agreement ensures that Hobbs is not only convicted, but locked away for what will likely be the remainder of his life.
“This defendant terrified and brutalized the women he attacked, but now families will be spared enduring a trial and he will be locked away until he is nearly 100 years old,” Ogg said. “He avoided being sent from county jail to state prison as long as he could, but with this sentence justice has been served and Steven Hobbs will never again set foot in Harris County.”
In 2002, Hobbs beat and strangled Pyatt before dumping her body in the San Jacinto River; in the same area in 2010, he handcuffed Sanford’s arms and legs, then joined them together with another set of cuffs before shooting her in the head.
He has been jailed since his arrest in 2011, making him the longest-serving inmate of the Harris County Jail. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Hobbs gets credit for the 10 years he has already been jailed. He will serve 20 years more for the first murder, then 30 for the second, making him eligible for parole at 101 years old.
During an earlier hearing, prosecutors Sara Seely and Jennifer Meriwether said Hobbs had applied for a job with a small local police department before his arrest and that several women who were attacked but survived were on their list of witnesses to be called to testify during the trial.
“This is finally closure for all the families and the victims,” Meriwether said. “I think that’s important so that we can move our resources on to other cases and keep working to remove the case backlog. But most of all, this is for the victims.”
The case was investigated by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Pasadena Police Department, with assistance from the Secret Service.