Tyler man gets life for sexual abuse of child under 14 years old

TYLER (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - A Tyler man received a life sentence for continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14 on Thursday in Smith County Judge Christi Kennedy's courtroom in the 114th District Court. But Leon Thomas Bunce, 21, will not be eligible to receive parole for the first degree felony offense, which carries a punishment range of 25 years to life, Smith County Assistant District Attorney Whitney Tharpe said on Friday.

The usual punishment range for a first degree felony offense in Texas is from five to 99 years or life, Ms. Tharpe said.
But in the Bunce case because the charge is continuous sexual assault of a child, the punishment range is different and does not offer parole as an option. "He must serve the entire sentence," she said.

Bunce was a family friend who inappropriately touched a 6-year-old girl on her private parts with his hand while at his home, Ms. Tharpe said.

The jury deliberated for about 25 minutes on guilt or innocence and 10 minutes on punishment, Ms.Tharpe said.


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