E TX man sentenced to 375 years for sexual assault of a child - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

E TX man sentenced to 375 years for sexual assault of a child

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From Anderson District Attorney's Office:

PALESTINE (KYTX) - Willis Demond Carwell, 32 of Palestine was sentenced to a total of 375 years in prison on five counts of sexual assault of a child on Tuesday afternoon at the Anderson County Courthouse.

A jury of 8 men and 4 women reached verdicts of 75 years on each count at 1:13 in the afternoon on Tuesday following a sentencing hearing which started on Monday.

Carwell showed little emotion as District Judge Pam Foster Fletcher who presided over trial read the jury's substantial verdict.

Anderson County Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Watkins represented the State of Texas with assistance from District Attorney Doug Lowe.

Carwell had earlier pleaded guilty to the assaults which are second degree felony. However, the possible punishment range was increased to a minimum of 5 years and maximum of 99 years or life because Carwell had been to prison for burglary of a habitation.

The female child victim testified in response to questioning by Assistant District Attorney Watkins about how she came to know Carwell.

"My mom took me with her to a meeting of Alcoholic's Anonymous and we met and I talked to him (Carwell). He came over to house after that," the victim said.

"He came to my 14th birthday party," the victim, now 15 told the jury.

"The first time we had sex I left my window unlocked and he snuck in. When we had sex I thought it was wrong, but didn't say anything," said the victim.

"I felt like I was in love with him (Carwell). He was 31, but I didn't think about his age," related the victim to the jury.

"Then I started getting a urinary infection so my mother took me to the hospital," the victim said. "The nurse told me I was pregnant. My mom was in shock."

"I had the baby because I believe abortion is wrong. I plan on raising my baby," added the victim.

The jury heard testimony from Anderson County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Ronnie Foster the case's lead investigator that DNA testing proved Carwell was the father of the baby born to the victim.

Jessi Jones, RN and Anderson County Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner testified the child victim's physical development was age appropriate for a fourteen year, but that the victim was obviously emotionally immature.

"She told me that they were going to get married and live happily ever after," Jones related to the jury.

Jones told the jury "This is why the law says children cannot consent to sexual encounters. Even if they have the physical ability to have sex, they are not emotionally equipped to handle the results."

In closing arguments Assistant District Attorney Watkins told the jury, "This defendant was manipulative and a user. It's not up to a child to say ‘no;' it's up to the 31 year old grown man not prey on a vulnerable and easy target. And, now it's up to you to decide the right punishment. "

District Attorney Doug Lowe commented on the verdict and said "The defendant's crime and his lengthy criminal history justify the long prison sentences. It's obvious to me that Carwell took advantage of a child and preyed upon her immaturity," added Lowe.

Evidence presented during the trial showed Carwell was on parole at the time of the crime.

Under Texas law, an offender serving a 75 year sentence is eligible for parole after 30 years.

However, Judge Fletcher elected to "stack" one of the sentences so Carwell will serve at least 60 years before he is eligible for parole.

Local attorney, Mark Cargill represented Carwell.

The identity of the victim or victim's family is not provided in order to protect the privacy of the injured parties.

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