Waco man sentenced in sexual abuse of three child relatives
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Waco man convicted of a lesser-included charge in the sexual abuse of three young family members agreed to accept a 10-year prison sentence Thursday.
Jurors in 19th State District Court deliberated three hours Thursday before convicting De’Shawn Lamare Horne on one count of indecency with a child by contact, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Horne, 23, was on trial on a continuous sexual abuse of young children charge, which carried a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison without parole,and up to life in prison without parole.
However, as the jury took a break before the punishment phase began, prosecutors Tara Avants and Liz Buice, and defense attorneys Brian Pollard and Cullan Britain, worked out a sentencing agreement that Horne accepted.
Horne, a 2019 Midway High School graduate, must serve at least five years in prison before he can seek parole and will have to register as a sex offender the remainder of his life.
McLennan County District Attorney Josh Tetens thanked the jury for its service, and said his office is grateful it held Horne responsible for the abuse of the three children.
“Testifying against your own family is incredibly difficult and we can never fully appreciate the courage it took these three to come forward,” Tetens said. “Through this agreed sentence, we ensured his conviction, his registration as a sex offender for life and a prison sentence for a minimum of five years.
“These children are now safe, as are others in our community, and it’s thanks to our incredible team of prosecutors, investigators, victim coordinators and law enforcement,” Tetens said.
Pollard declined comment at the end of the four-day trial.
Two girls and a boy testified that Horne sexually abused them on multiple occasions beginning when they were 12, 8 and 6, respectively, from January 2016 through December 2018. The abuse occurred at homes in Woodway and Hewitt they shared with a host of other family members after the three siblings were removed from their parents, who were neglectful and in and out of prison.
In closing statements Thursday, Buice asked the jury to believe the children and said it takes a village to raise a child. She said they, unlike Horne, have no motive to lie, and quoted from a Harry Potter book.
“The voice of a child, no matter how honest and true, is meaningless for those who have forgotten how to listen,” Buice said. “All the adults in their lives have failed them, but luckily, the 12 of you are now part of their village.”
Pollard told jurors in summations that Horne was not guilty and is the scapegoat of accusations the children’s father “manipulated” them into making after he took them to live with him in Georgia while owing thousands in child support.
The older girl testified she probably would not have reported the abuse if she hadn’t found out that Horne also had turned his sexual attention to her younger brother and sister.
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