The San Angelo man who was found guilty late Tuesday of aggravated sexual assault of a 12-year old female, which resulted in a pregnancy, has been sentenced to 50 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
According to court documents, jurors left the courtroom to deliberate the case at approximately 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The defendant took the stand this week and told jurors he is not the father of the baby born as a result of the aggravated sexual assault of the girl.
He said that he had known the victim since she was 2 or 3 years old. In 2007, she came to live with his family in the family home. His defense attorney, James Milam, asked if he and the victim slept in the same bed. He told the court that he did not sleep in the same bedroom or bed as the victim. He claimed his brother, who is also the victim’s father, shared a bed with the victim.
The state’s attorney, Ashley Knight, brought up the fact that the DNA analysis stated that he could not be excluded as the father of the victim’s baby.
The defense also called back to the stand a detective involved in the case. The detective said she knew that the victim’s father was a registered sex offender prior to this trial and school records indicated him to be the victim’s guardian. The detective began investigating the case when she learned of charge against the victim’s father.
He was booked into the Tom Green County Jail at approximately 7 p.m. Tuesday.
In the sentencing phase of the trial, Judge Tom Gossett heard more testimony from the victim who told the court that the defendant began touching her inappropriately around the time she was in the fourth grade and that’s when they began an intimate relationship. She said the defendant told her that they would be together forever. When the victim became pregnant, she said the defendant told her that he could go to jail as a result of the pregnancy.
A counselor with the West Texas Counseling Associates was next to take the stand. She counseled the victim for 15 months following the birth of the victim’s baby. The counselor said the victim was having trouble in school, she would wake up with night terrors, have flashbacks, suffered from anxiety, self-mutilating behavior and had difficulty trusting people. When the state attorney Knight asked the counselor how long the effects of the abuse would effect the victim, the counselor said the victim basically has a lifetime sentence. She dealt with rejection and abandonment from her biological family that sided with the defendant and would continue to play a role in her life.
After Gossett sentenced the defendant, the victim gave one last statement to the defendant. She said that in her time in foster care she lived with a family that believed in God and that taught her to forgive. She told the defendant that she forgave him and her family.
The 119th Judicial District Attorney issued at statement Wednesday afternoon highlighting the details of the case.
The DA’s office said that on Feb. 24, 2014, representatives from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, commonly referred to as CPS, notified Det. Kelly Lajoie with the San Angelo Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Section about a 13-year old girl who was suspected to be pregnant. The child was interviewed at Hope House and did not make allegations of sexual abuse and denied that she was pregnant. Child Protective Services continued their involvement and when the family refused to take the child to the doctor, CPS obtained an aid to investigate order that allowed CPS to take custody of the girl and take her to a doctor. When the pregnancy test came back as positive, CPS moved for an emergency removal from the child’s family which was allowed.
The child had her baby on April 15, 2014. After an investigation, Lajoie had probable cause to believe the baby’s biological father was the defendant, who was the victim’s family member. A search warrant was obtained for a sample of the defendant’s DNA. DNA samples were obtained from him, the victim and the baby. Those samples were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for paternity testing and the results were that 99.999998 percent of the population could be excluded as the father of the baby and that the defendant could not be excluded.
A jury trial began on March 21, 2016, with 391st District Judge Tom Gossett presiding. After hearing the testimony and reviewing the evidence, the jury deliberated for approximately an hour and a half before finding the defendant guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child. The defendant elected to have the judge assess punishment.
During the punishment phase of the trial the State called the victim and her counselor as witnesses, the release said. The defense did not present any evidence. After hearing the evidence, the judge sentenced the defendant to 50 years confinement in the penitentiary.
The DA’s office said in the release, “We want to thank the jury for their careful consideration in this case. We also want to thank Detective Kelly Lajoie from the San Angelo Police Department, along with the victim’s attorneys and representatives from the Department of Family and Protective Service, for their involvement and assistance in the case. We applaud the young lady who had the strength and courage to take the stand and confront her perpetrator. We hope that this verdict will help her in the healing process and she can move forward from this awful period in her life. Prosecuting crimes against children involves a team effort. Our office remains committed to working closely with the victims in these cases, evaluating each case based upon the evidence and law, and seeking justice for our children and our community.
Contributors: Skyler Nichols, Sandy Rojas