Dad arrested for taking daughter’s phone as punishment

When Ronald Jackson found a text he thought was rude and inappropriate on his then-12-year-old daughter's phone in September 2013, he took the cell away. But the child's mother, Michelle Steppe, balked at his action — and she called the police, reports Yahoo news.

Steppe and Jackson have not been a couple for years, and Steppe is now married to a Grand Prairie, Texas, police officer. When the police showed up at Jackson's door later that day and asked for the iPhone 4 back, Jackson refused. "At that point I decided the police don't interfere with my ability to parent my daughter," he told KHOU 11 News on Wednesday.

But Steppe insisted that the phone belonged to her, and three months after Jackson refused to return it, he got a citation in the mail for theft of property. He was offered a plea deal in January 2014 if he would return the phone. Instead, Jackson hired an attorney and requested a jury trial.

The case moved to Dallas County and, unbeknownst to Jackson, a warrant was issued for his arrest. The police showed up at his door around 2:00am in April 2015, and Jackson was handcuffed and taken to jail.

"It made no sense to me for them to show up and make a big deal out of something that was a small thing," Jackson said. "I couldn't believe they would go to this extent for a cellphone. It didn't seem right." He posted $1,500 bail and was released after a night in jail, Yahoo news reported.

"I've never seen anything like it," Cameron Gray, Jackson's defense attorney, told KHOU Wednesday. "You would think we were on the Jerry Springer Show."

After just a two-day trial — in which Jackson's daughter, now 15, testified — Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Lisa Green ordered the jury to find Jackson not guilty, citing insufficient evidence to prove a theft charge. Steppe disagrees with the verdict. "Even if you purchase something with your own money and have a receipt, it's not yours," she said. "Someone can take it from you."