UPDATE: Defense rests case in sex assault trial of Whitehouse man

UPDATE: (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) -  Prosecutors rested their case this morning against a Whitehouse man accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Russel Wayne Inks, 45, faces up to life in prison if he is convicted.

The defense is expected to begin presenting its case this afternoon. Jurors this morning saw two DVDs, one from March and one from April, in which the child victim spoke to forensic interviewer Becky Cunio of the Children's Advocacy Center of Smith County. In the March interview, the then-6-year-old girl said that no one had ever touched her inappropriately. But in the April interview, the child told Ms. Cunio the details of how Inks had allegedly touched her.

SMITH COUNTY (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - A 9-year-old fourth-grade girl, who said she loves sports and art, told a Smith County jury on Wednesday how a Whitehouse man allegedly touched her inappropriately in her home two years ago as the two played a computer game.

Russel Wayne Inks III, 45, of Whitehouse, faces two years to life in prison if convicted of the first-degree felony of aggravated sexual assault of a child, Smith County Assistant District Attorney Jason Parrish said.

"Rusty touched me in my wrong spot," the girl told the jury in the Smith County 241st District Court, referring to Inks. She described how the defendant touched her inappropriately after he asked her to sit on his lap while the two were inside the master bedroom of her mother's home in Whitehouse in March 2010.

The courthouse dog, Petra, who is specially-trained to help traumatized children testify in court, sat by the girl's side. She joined the Smith County District Attorney's Office in July.

Inks admitted to Whitehouse police that he touched the girl inappropriately, but that it was an accident, Parrish said.

The child demonstrated to the jury with drawings of figures how the defendant allegedly touched her.
"It made me feel uncomfortable," she said. The girl's grandmother and a younger brother were in the home at the time, she said.

In his opening statement to the jury, Parrish said that Inks and the child's grandmother had known each other for 17 years, and that the grandmother lived with the girl and her family.

Parrish said shortly after the alleged incident happened, Inks texted the grandmother asking her how things were going.

"She texted him back saying that she could not talk to him because of a family emergency. She never heard from him again. He knew what it (the family emergency) was," Parrish said.

The first time the girl met with interviewers at the Children's Advocacy Center of Smith County in March 2010, she was unable to tell them what allegedly had happened. But one month later, the girl was able to tell interviewers about the events she said took place.

Prosecutor Jeff Wood served as co-counsel with Parrish.

Defense attorneys Brett Harrison and F.R. "Buck" Files reserved their opening statements on Wednesday, but did question the girl. The child testified she had first told her relatives about the abuse shortly after it happened.

Harrison questioned the child, asking her if she and her mother and grandmother told Inks goodbye when he left her home. "So you told him goodbye and no one said anything and you weren't crying?" Harrison asked. "No," the girl said.

The child also testified Inks never told her not to tell anyone, in response to questioning from Harrison. The defense also questioned the child about her inability to talk about what happened to her in March 2010 to authorities, and that she was able to talk about the incident one month later.

Testimony continues today.


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