The Campaign For DA


Breaking: A Man Just Agreed To Accept A 40 Year Sentence

I think this is a record for Wise County.

Morris Scott Burcham, who had been scheduled for trial tomorrow in the 271st District Court in Decatur, accepted a plea "bargain" this morning of 40 years in the pen to the offense of Aggravated Sexual Assault of Child. He doesn't become eligible for parole for 20 years.

Such a plea of guilty to a very high sentence is yet another result of a change in the law from a few years back which created the offense for which Burcham had originally been charged with: Continuous Sexual Abuse of A Child (two or more acts of abuse within 30 days.). If he had been convicted of that offense, the minimum sentence was 25 years (maximum of life) and, get this, there is no possibility of parole.  After looking at that, he decided that 40 years with at least a chance of getting out is a better deal. (So far the law has survived repeated attacks.)

He showed up for the plea in a jacket and tie, shed a few tears, and then took his seat with the inmates. He was indicted in March of 2009, and it sounded like he sat in jail for quite a while before making bond.

I remember a plea for 30 years back in 2000, but I'm not sure I've ever heard of one for more than that. Until today.