Former “Star Search” winner David Nelson Slater, 44, pleaded guilty to four charges of burglary of a building and was sentenced to 18 months in state jail during a court hearing May 3.
Slater had been in custody at Wayne McCollum Detention Center on a $180,000 bond since his Jan. 22 arrest on the state jail felony charges, which relate to offenses reported by Midlothian ISD.
According to Midlothian police, surveillance tape showed Slater entering one of the school’s computer labs with a key and leaving with several computers. The video also showed Slater making trips to his car and loading it with the computer equipment.
Police said Slater likely acquired the key while acting as associate pastor with the Christ Family Fellowship of Ellis County. The church no longer meets at the Middle School, but during the time that the computers were stolen Sunday services were being held there.
An unknown benefactor hired Slater’s attorney, Michael Hearnden, who reported after last week’s proceedings that Slater had “received an 18-month sentence with a little over three months time served so he will be doing a little less than 15 months and then Tennessee has a hold on him.”
Slater’s Tennessee problems began when he was convicted in 2002 for auto burglary, theft and forgery. He served 90 days of a four-year sentence at that time.
“As far as what Tennessee chooses to do with him, it is up to them whether they give him credit for his time in Texas or not - I am optimistic that they will because generally that is how it works,” Hearnden said.
Slater believes his sentence was heavier because his case was “high profile.”
In a jailhouse interview, Slater said his attorney told him to accept the state’s offer of 18 months as this was as low a sentence as prosecutors were prepared to go.
“(My attorney) felt like because I had had a little trouble before and because it was a high profile thing he said they were feeling political pressure and they were feeling a little pressure from the local police there in Midlothian where the charge was,” Slater said.
“I know that what I did was wrong and I deserve punishment and so I will go through this with my head up and learn from it.”
Slater said his troubles started when he began to feel the pressure of being far behind on child support payments for his two children, who live with his ex-wife in Alabama.
“There is a lot of stuff swirling around out there about the drug thing and nobody has yet refuted that. I don’t even know what most drugs look like and I hardly drink,” he said in the interview, acknowledging, “ I have had some gambling stuff.”
In 2005, Slater was charged with credit card abuse while working at Macaroni Grill in Cedar Hill. In the interview, he said he was “struggling and behind on child support. The gambling is a reason I was low on money a lot of times.”
Slater won the finals for male vocalist champion on the television show “Star Search” in 1987 and was awarded $100,000 and a record contract. According to Wikipedia, he then signed with Capitol Records and released two albums on that label in the late 1980s: “Exchange of Hearts” and “Be with Me.”
Slater’s singles made the top 40 on Billboard and additional charts, but he eventually turned to the ministry instead.
After moving back to Dallas, Slater performed at local restaurants performing hits from greats such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Nat King Cole. In 2005 he produced another album entitled, “Nice and Easy.”
Slater will be moved to a state jail within the next few months.
“I will learn from my mistakes and that is all I can do at this point,” he said.