LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A jury found a Lufkin man guilty of sexually assaulting two young girls on multiple occasions Thursday. A short time later, the jury sentenced him to 55 years in prison.
"It was a very disturbing case from the beginning," detective Pat Nichols said. "It's the things nightmares are made of."
During the third day of testimony in the ongoing sexual assault of child trial of Brian Garrett, the prosecuting and defense attorneys started the day by making their impassioned closing arguments.
Garrett is accused of sexual assaulting two young girls multiple times from June 2012 to February 2014. Garrett turned himself in to the Angelina County Sheriff's office after an investigation. On Day 2 of the trial, Garrett took the stand and claimed the charges against him are not true. If convicted he faces anywhere between 25 years to life in prison with no chance of probation.
"It's a big sense of satisfaction that we were able to get justice to these two young victims and also prevent any new victims," Nichols said.
As Garrett was taken out of the courthouse, he told East Texas News he plans on fighting the case.
"I know I am innocent," Garrett said.
Garrett added he plans on appealing the case. Defense attorney John Tunnell said he had no comment on the case.
Prosecuting attorney John Peralta started the day with his closing arguments.
"Sorry for my language to you, but this is a hard case," Peralta said. "The fact is, Brian Garrett forced these girls to have oral sex."
Peralta brought up investigator Candy Hartman and her testimony from Mary Doe.
"You heard Hartman say she left the room and could hear her crying and praying, 'I don't know what to do,'" Peralta said.
Peralta brought up the SANE exam on Mary Doe where he said the jury can tell her private area looked like she had been abused.
"This leaves you all with what the victims said and that is that Garrett sexually assaulted them," Peralta said. "We have dozens of acts of sexual abuse over a number of months."
Peralta told the jury they were able to establish that it happened multiple times in a 30 day period which is needed.
Defense attorney John Tunnell told the jury you can see the power of the accusation.
"With the power of accusation innocent things become incriminating," Tunnell said.
Tunnell claimed to the jury that the two victims stood together in these allegations that are not true. Tunnell also added that Brian Garrett was working a lot of the time and was hardly at home.
"I thought it was important for Garrett to testify," Tunnell said. "He denied this ever happened. That's all an innocent man has to do; is to deny it."
Tunnell pointed out that his client even answered truthfully for Peralta despite Peralta getting on his nerves.
"I don't know how you feel about my client, but he go up here and told you the truth," Tunnell said.
Tunnell said was it true Brian Garrett had pornography on his phone and that it might make his wife upset, but he said that does not make Brian Garrett a child molester.
Peralta then stood back up and said he was not going to spend much time again because the facts speak for themselves
"[Tunnell] leaves out the fact that Garrett told the victims to lie to Harold's House," Peralta said. "This case is not easy - for the victims, for the lawyers for the judge.
"If you believe these girls and the witnesses on the stand, then that man is guilty as charged," Peralta said.
Peralta brought up the testimony of Anne Doe, a woman in her 20s that claimed Brian Garrett tried to assault her when she was 12.
"There is a special law that allows us in this type of case to use past sexual behaviors to link a person to a current case. "[Anne Doe's] story was similar to these victims," Peralta. "This is not a case that demands justice; this is a case that screams justice."
Peralta then brought up the statement by Jane Doe where she said, "I'm not scared because I have courage right now because God is with me."
Peralta ended his statement by saying someone needs to stand up for these two girls.
The case was handed to the jury at 11 a.m.
The punishment phase of the trial started around 2 p.m. Tunnell called Ruby Garrett to the stand to question her about her son.
Ruby Garrett told Tunnell that her son had never been arrested before.
Ruby Garrett said her son was a good person at Lufkin High School and did some college while he was in the National Guard before getting hurt. She said he has always been employed and took care of the family.
"There's lots of people that love Brian," Ruby Garrett said. "Brian was a good kid. He never got in trouble with drugs or any of that like his older brother. I never had problems with his brother."
Peralta had nothing to add before addressing the jury one more time.
In his closing address to the jury, Peralta told the panel of eight women and four men that any sentence less than 50 years would not be right and thought a life sentence was fair but said, "That is up to you."
Tunnell followed up with an argument that most of the time, the sentences Peralta asks for are fair but not this time.
"Mr. Garrett has had a steady job and provides for his family," Tunnell said. "He is not like other people in his situation."
Tunnell asked for the minimum sentence from the jury.
The jury went into deliberation at 2:35 pm.