10.05.2011

The Punishment Verdict In My Trial



I kind of lost. I kind of won. It might have been a tie. It's worthy of debate.

The case: Two counts of Indecency With a Child occurring two years apart. Same victim -- a family member who was not biologically related. There was a written confession to both acts as well as an admission to a third incident involving them. Throw in a similar offense involving another family member, who was more than willing to come testify, which happened twenty years ago when they were both teenagers and you've got a prescription for trouble.

Yell at me all you want, but I liked the guy. He confessed to the offenses twice. Once in a video session and then came back a week later to write it all down for the cops. He never dreamed of pleading "Not guilty" and readily pled guilty before the jury. Some folks use the phrase about "owning" your conduct. Well, he owned his conduct.

Prior to committing the indicted crimes, he had been to Christian counseling 178 times over five years on his own for alcohol dependency issues. 178 times. Any incident, he told the jury, was committed under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Primarily alcohol. Edit: One line I forgot to say on closing argument was "Alcohol is not to blame, but it's not blameless." That's the best description I can think of.

The range of punishment was 2 to 20 years on both counts, but he could receive probation because he had no prior felony conviction. The prosecutors could, and told me would, ask for the sentences to be stacked by the judge if they involved prison time. Worst case scenerio: Two 20 year sentences to run back to back. Best case scenerio: Probation.

The result after over five hours of deliberations: An interesting combo that no one suggested to the jury. Fifteen years in prison on Count I but probation on Count II. Practically, he'll have to serve at least 7 1/2 years before becoming eligible for parole. After parole, if it happens, he may or may not have to start the probation. (We're still sorting that out.)

Overall, the verdict seems fair.

Everything above is in the public record and will probably be in the Messenger this weekend. (That dang Joe Duty was snapping pictures everywhere.)

But let me end with one interesting note. Well, at least it is interesting to me. Prior to the trial, he asked me if he could dip snuff while it was going on. I told him no, we can't have him spitting in a cup the entire time in front of the jury. He then told me that every time he had met with me he had a dip in, didn't spit, and it was undetectable. (It truly was.) I told him, it would probably be OK. Fast forward to this afternoon when the deputy was taking him away. He handed me his personal effects which included some nicotine candy. At that time I remembered our earlier conversation and asked him if he had had a dip in throughout the trial. "No," he said. "I used that candy instead. The sign said this is a tobacco free facility."

Laugh at him if you will but, upon reflection, that attitude doesn't surprise me a bit. It's OK to like people who have done bad things.

Edit: One of the prosecutors posted in the comments that the plea bargain offer was "12 years." Yes and no. It was at one time but the offer was pulled after more damning evidence was found. Honestly, it probably wouldn't have mattered if the offer was the minimum of two years. Just like there are some cases that the prosecutor just wants the jury to decide, there are some defendants who will have that same mindset.

But at the risk of sucking up, I'll give props to the DA's office. No dirty tricks. Stipulations on legal issues that were critical yet undisputed and, therefore, not worthy of a fight. All evidence disclosed before trial. Prepared. Professional. Every defense lawyer just wants a chance of a fair fight with a fair jury. Prosecutors should never prevent that from happening.

Over the years, I've been stunned by the number of opposing lawyers who won't reach over, shake hands, and say "good job" at the end of a trial. It happened today. Edit: The handshake DID take place yesterday. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you not learned that these guys always seem to be of good character to others and then we find out they molest children? They seem nice but they are mentally unbalance because, yes, "they own their conduct". I would bet that somewhere in his past he had to learn to mind somebody or have the shit beat out of him. His probation should not count while he is in jail. I hope the law is that his probation will not start until he is released from the 15 year sentence, as the probation is time given to prove he can stay away from children for 10 years.
You liked him? Barry, you are too gullible. Maybe you put blinders on having to defend the guilty so much.
The verdict should have been 20 years for each count consecutively.

Anonymous said...

And another thing Barry, Joe Duty owes you big time for that awful pic of you.

Goober said...

And 5:25 is one of those fine upstanding citizen Right Wing Christian zealots that wear a braclet asking "What would Jesus Do?".

Anonymous said...

Barry, as a former criminal defense lawyer, I will agree with you that criminal defendants can be very nice people. It is unfortunate that most people cannot every empathize with criminals, because they could never admit to themselves that they be in the criminal's position.

Truly, you had the best form of criminal defense client--the one who has taken responsibility for his actions and admitted his guilt. I got away from criminal defense work for two reasons: first, because I got burned out defending people who claimed they were innocent and I later learned they were lying. The hardest job of the criminal defense lawyer comes when he is defending someone he believes in innocent.

Secondly, I had just as hard a time defending at the adjudication phase someone who I knew was guilty. Now, everyone has the right to make the state prove its case against them. But I often felt like my job was to obfuscate the evidence to create reasonable doubt when I knew darn well the defendant was guilty. I just could not do that.

Your job is important. Keep at it.

Anonymous said...

I know him, too. I like him, too. He did terribly wrong, totally inexcusable things, but sometimes, good people do BAD things.
I think the jury came to a fair decision. I hope evryone can heal from this awful situation, whatever their part might be.

Anonymous said...

What about the victims? They will suffer far more than what he's going to.

Anonymous said...

Well, I suppose it was a strange verdict, but since the offer to plead guilty was 12 years in prison, and he got 15, I am thinking he probably doesn't feel much like he won. The jury actually believed they were giving 15 prison plus 10 probation which would have been quite fair (yes, I was one of the prosecutors) but what they didn't know is that what they wanted is probably not legally possible. In Texas, you cannot give prison time followed by probation, it isn't an option under our law. I will leave it to you whether he was a likeable guy. But as your other poster pointed out, most child molesters are quite endearing. That's how they gain the trust of their victims. This guy molested his sister twenty years ago and his stepdaughter for years. I will let your readers decide whether they like him or not. I won't lose any sleep over him. Both sides did a good, professional job in this case. On to the next. There are plenty waiting, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Bet you wouldn't "like" him so much if the victim were your wife or your daughter.

Anonymous said...

7:08 "there are plenty waiting, my friend"

That is very sad to think there are many more situations like this.. :(

Anonymous said...

I am christian, but definitely not right wing. I just believe in purnishment for crimes.

5:25

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion, ladies and gentlemen.

I am always fascinated at the tremendous number of individuals in our society who choose not to see the good in “bad” people. There is good and evil in every one of us.

“Let he who has no sin cast the first stone.”

Anonymous said...

I admire your professionalism. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Other than the obvious, I rather liked Hitler because he was good with kids.

Anonymous said...

7:55 If we were converned by "Let he who has no sin cast the first stone", we could not have laws of the land. The bible teaches to obey the law of the land.
I for one could certainly cast no stone, but there are some things people do that we have to have a way to keep them from repeating their evil.

And Barry, it's a dirty job but somebody has to do it. I think you do a good job too.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone bought him lunch, as you wonder if anyone bought some bad soldiers a meal.

Anonymous said...

Lots of people have been taken in by phonies. A lot of people that used to donate to the Fire crews stopped because of all the theft.

Anonymous said...

And I'm sure the whiny prosecutor asked for far more than 12 years, stacked, at trial so they definitely don't feel like they won. Big titty baby.

Rage

Anonymous said...

OK, Barry, first of all I respect you and the job you do. However, in 7 1/2 years when this guy walks, his victims will still struggle each and every day of their lives with the abuse. He admitted his guilt and he was always under the influence....whatever! He has taken something from two (that we know of) innocent people that they will never get back. He has a serious problem and should spend his life in prison. Harsh???? Ask his victims in 7 1/2 years when he's free what they think.

Cheryl T. said...

I am speechless!!!!!!! As the director of a licensed childcare facility here in Decatur, my main job responsibility is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all 121 kids I have in my center!!!!I do what I do because I love children!!I have said to many people that I truly believe that the only people who cannot be reformed are the ones who commit crimes against children. The ones who have any sexual thought involving a child are the worst of the worst. People drink all the time and the thought of molesting a child never occurs. That he did this under the influence of alcohol does not excuse his behavior. I know children that this has happened to and it pretty much ruins their lives. There is no excuse for this!!! For the people who think this is ok, either you don't have a heart at all for children or perhaps you are hiding a deep, dark family secret!!!! I CAN ONLY HOPE AND PRAY THAT WORTHLESS PIECE OF NOTHING GETS HIS IN THE END....get it? If not, that means a little broom handle action delivered by Satan himself!!!! My first prayer though is for the children to heal and have as normal a life as they can in spite of what this sick bastard did!!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't care if he "owned his conduct"! He will do it again, given the chance.

Anonymous said...

BG... I appreciate attorney's who represent the good guys who have done wrong.

Everyone wants to bury and label them and give them no chance.

Anonymous said...

Here's betting a majority of people have committed crimes that they would stand trial for, but never were caught... and I'm not talking horrendous crimes here but more than a traffic ticket... and the majority of those majority are good people who made one bad choice but didn't get caught, but could be in those shoes standing in court, but no one knew or didn't want to file a complaint.

Anonymous said...

Lets see.... Your super nice defendant is a child molester who owned up for his conduct but tries to bargain because he was drinking. I guess he's ok because he feels guilty and he is a "nice" child molester. Complete crap.

The girls he was molesting were similar in age as the ones in your house. Look them in the face when you feel anything remotely positive about this guy.

Only punishment fitting these people is at the end of a rope. Every single one of the evil people should die.

Anonymous said...

So if he's such a great guy, why didn't he take the 12 years and keep the victims from having to go through a trial?

Hey, Rage, only whining I see here is from Mr. LL himself. Along wih a little bit of self promotion and SPIN. Why don't you shut up about stuff you know absolutely nothing about ... oh, yeah. Because your RAGE and you know everything.


How the hell can someone compare speeding or committing some other crime and not getting caught with molesting two children? We definitely are going to hell in a handbasket.

Anonymous said...

Were Drugs or Alcohol involved?

Anonymous said...

You have never been a father...if you had, you absolutely would not feel this way, you would hate him...you're pathetic.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure he wishes he would of had that dip!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it Joe's Duty to snap?

Anonymous said...

7:08-
It isn't legal to sentence a person to probation after serving prison time, but you can suspend the probation until they have completed their jail time-at least in some circumstances, such as if they were already on a probation, and commit a new offense..they can serve time for the new case, and then return to probation upon completion of time..or if they have more than one case, that occurs at different times, and therefore tried seperately (as in your case)..I would double check on that, you should still have the option to "pause" his second sentence until completion of jail time....Just food for thought.

~DF Judge Shmails...

The Devil said...

I quit using broom handles years ago!

Remote Controller said...

I would say the guy tried to make amends and tried to change his ways. He went above and beyond through Christian channels and legal changes to not only better himself but his family. He knew the risks of his sentences and he still took full responsibility.

Casting the first stone is about the individual and how that individual, in the worst circumstances should have empathy and forgive. While the laws of the land are for the society as a whole so that these crimes judged as a system and not as individuals.

For those that say, "if it was your kid, etc". I use to work with "those" kids. The kids forgave when helped. The parents however... not so much.

The man took responsibility for his crime and the law sentenced him. It shouldn't be a time to judge but a time for empathy for everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

Put the molesters away for life.

And I think some lawyers have fixed ideas about these crimes and bring these into the courtroom, regardless of which "side" they are on. Maybe some of these folks were abused as kids too.

Crimes against children are the worst crimes of all. Period.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that all the hard liners here say that they support the law of the land, but when the law hands down punishment, they want it to be more.

And . . .

How can you be a Christian and talk about Hate?

Anonymous said...

One last comment on this, BG, and you will know who this is. Don't speak in generalities. I told you good job and shook your hand after this trial ended ... twice. And had I not offered to do so at my own instance, would YOU have extended your hand? Just curious whether you made any gesture toward the particular lawyer you are criticizing. People in glass houses, look to yourself first, blah blah blah. You know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Most abusers were abused themselves. Let's quit focusing on how fair or unfair the punishment is. It has been set by a jury of his peers, therefore, it is not just the whim of one person.
Instead, let's focus on the children of this abuser and others. Don't tell them their lives are ruined, let's show them how to overcome this and go on and lead productive lives. Let's make sure they don't get caught in the same trap and show them while someone has done something unspeakable, life can still be good.
Quit wringing your hands over this sentencing and do something positive. Volunteer with CASA, help out at schools, teach Sunday School, etc....

Anonymous said...

10:23, nicely said

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the edit on the handshake deal. Nuf said on this.

Anonymous said...

Agreed Cheryl T!!!!

I am a victim of family abuse. You never stop thinking about it. NEVER. You forgive, you grow up, etc. and even with all the counseling in the world, parental support, all of it, it is still there. It never goes away. It defines who you are. If it hasn't happened to you, then you just don't know. Your trust of people is... well, just gone.

And, it makes you also so protective of your own children. God help anyone who would do that to my daughter.
Then, I guess I would need your services, BG.

Anonymous said...

10:23 - your comments about helping children overcome sexual abuse are well taken, but I think a child NEVER gets over that. It will always be in the mind, hence once abused, many become abusers. That is a proven fact.

It IS the worst of all crimes to hurt a child. Only second to that is abusing an old person.

Both are totally dependent upon adults to care for them. Abusers of either should be removed from society and locked up forever.

Period.

Anonymous said...

The term for criminals that you like is....psychopaths.
Many serial killers are incredibly likable folks. The have no conscience.
For serial child molesters and sexual predators the only scientific solution known to date is castration. Some criminals have requested this procedure because they can not control themselves. I'm thinking since in Texas we have no problem killing criminals, why can't we castrate them too!

Anonymous said...

Christians can get away with murder in this county. If this guy was any other religion or God forbid an atheist, they would've hung him from the tallest tree

Anonymous said...

Since so much legal stuff comes out on Barry's blog, just what questions are asked perspective jurors about a child molesting case? Perspective DWI juries are frequently asked about drinking habits. So?

And how many lawyers were messed with as kids? Probably a lot more than would admit it. Makes me wonder how these folks can "defend" one of those perverts.

And what are the stats of those who are wrongfully accused and found innocent of the charge?

Anonymous said...

I only hope that if it were one of my kids I would have the balls to do what that guy did in the airport to the perv who molested his son years ago.... one in the back of the head and put your hands up...

Cheryl T. said...

I cannot understand how anyone could defend a child molester. I thought a lot about this today at my center....I watched my 4 and 5 year olds come into the cafeteria and pray and then eat!!! I said, "good job, guys" and then I began to think about this creep and wonder how he could have sexual thoughts about children the same age I was looking at...or any "child!" I got sooooo angry at the thought of someone doing this to one of them. The most these children should ever have to worry about is what center to play in, who to sit by at lunch, who is picking them up today, etc. Kids should be able to run, play, laugh and sing without a care in the world. Why this evil perverted, defect is embedded in these sick bastard's minds will never be anything I will ever understand or accept. I do know for sure that I would die before I ever said that I liked one of them or that I believed that one of them had changed. Sex is for adults...not innocent children!!!

Anonymous said...

Well said Cheryl.

I grew up in a small town. The WHOLE TOWN knew who the child molesters were. BY NAME. BY SIGHT. THEY KNEW THE CAR HE DROVE. Children were warned not to go near the guy. People still know those things in small communities.

We can't stop this deviate behavior, but we can get tough on these folks in a court of law.

I know the law protects these folks until they are found guilty, but how a lawyer could defend such a pervert is beyond me.

How can they sleep at night?

Anonymous said...

Coming from the mother of a child who was molested by someone we trusted, this man should be bent over, if you know what I mean.

The molester in our case was nice, too. And, is still walking the streets of Parker County.

Our justice system failed my child and the other children this freak abused.

Parents, be careful who you trust. They are right under our noses.

Anonymous said...

9:32 - the only way our justice system will support children who are victims is to put these folks away in prison and never let them out to molest again. Wise County juries when given the options for prison time can go with the maximum. Send a message that we do NOT tolerate such acts upon our children.

I wish the law had only two options. Life in prison or go free after castration.

Anonymous said...

There is suppose to be separation of church & state. However, BG, you brought the church into the court as much as possible in defending the pedophile. Kind of ironic.
According to you, this creep does his perversions when he is drunk. Wow. That's a new excuse. So if I am drunk, robbing a bank is excusable. Got it.
No matter what punishment this pedophile receives, he will never suffer as much as the victims.
You pointed out that his sister was more than willing to testify against him, as if she betrayed her brother. Obviously she was willing to forgive him, thinking that she was the only victim. However, upon finding out that he did it to his step-daughter, she realized he was not going to change.
I can guarantee that there have been other victims along the way. The recidivism rate is very high. So when he gets out, should we close all the liquor stores to protect the children? HE is responsible, not the booze.

Anonymous said...

Barry - you are doing a fantastic job! I know some days are extremely tough.

I don't support child molestation at all but I also know that there is a difference in just getting drunk on occasion and being an alcoholic.

I was abused as a child also and yes I do still deal with some issues today BUT, I have tried to concentrate on the fact that I don't know all the reasons why people do bad things.

There's a saying I have heard many times, judging someone doesn't define who they are, just defines who you are for judging.

Anonymous said...

8:21
Everybody who was sexually abused as a child handles the horrors differently.

Apparently you were able to get thru it much better than others. However, you did mention that you still have some lingering issues.

THAT is the point of judging the creep. His actions created lifelong pain for his victims.

Anonymous said...

Likeable Guy?

In his mind: (Confessions) + (Born again Christian)= (Free pass, I can do it again and I will.) Ask him how many times he's been "saved." He wears that excuse 'like a cloak of invisibility.'

People make bad choices every day but obviously pedophiles are wired different. Classic alcohol induced side effects don't generate inappropriate sexual feelings towards children or siblings such as a sister.

Alcoholics AND Pedophiles are not one in the same. Ask for a show of hands at any AA 12 step program of how many feel the need to touch children when they 'fall off the wagon.'

An Alcoholic Pedophile equals an aggressive Pedophile.

So in 7.5 years, remember to invite him over for dinner and when he touches your child because he thought they were part of the main entree,... he WILL do the right thing, ask for your forgiveness, tell you he's a "born again Christian," and that should make everything better. After all, you should get over it because he's admitted his wrongs, and that makes him a pretty upstanding and 'likeable guy.' Right?

Wrong...
Sister-

Anonymous said...

Just because this "man" was under the influence of alcohol does not in any shape or form make what he did ok. There is no excuse for molesting a child. A parents instinct is to protect their child and protect them from these monsters. Look at the people who drink drive and kill somebody because they were drunk. Does that make it ok to kill somebody because you have had too much to drink? How likable would he be if he molested your child? What was his excuse for molesting his sister? Was he drunk then too? 7 years in prison is a cake walk compared to what his victim went through and what she will deal with every day for the rest of her life. I feel he should have been buried under the jail. Look at his track record, once a molester always a molester. It takes one sick man to even have any sexual feelings for a child.