CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - A Crockett man has been indicted on a felony arson charge in connection to allegations that he set a fire in a bedroom of a home, molested a 14-year-old girl, and prevented her from leaving the flame-engulfed room.
When the Houston County grand jury met on Aug. 25, they indicted Derrick Dyon Batts, 35, on the felony arson charge. On the day that Batts was arrested, he was also charged with two other felonies – indecency with a child and endangering a child.
East Texas News has reached out to the Houston County District Attorney's Office to ask why the grand jury chose not to indict Batts on the other two charges.
According to one of the arrest affidavits, firefighters responded to a fire at a home in the 200 block of County Road 1500. When emergency personnel arrived on the scene, they found the home was fully engulfed in flames.
The fire marshal and an HCSO investigator spoke to a 14-year-old girl who had been in the home when the fire started. She told them that she and Batts had been in the bedroom where the blaze started before and after the fire.
In addition, the alleged victim told authorities that Batts had been touching her "private parts," and she had pushed him away in an effort to get him to stop. After the fire started, Batts allegedly kept her from leaving the room even though the flames were all around her.
The girl was only able to escape by pushing past Batts after her mother intervened, the affidavit stated. When the fire marshal and the HCSO investigator spoke to the girl's mother, she told them she ran into the home after she saw the fire in the bedroom.
According to the affidavit, the girl's mother told authorities that Batts tried to block her from entering the room by standing in the doorway. He allegedly told her, "It's too late."
Further investigation revealed that Batts set the fire in the home's bedroom. The arrest affidavit for the arson charge said that fire investigators ruled out an accidental cause for the fire.
"Batts was the only occupant in the room of origin," the affidavit stated. "In addition, he was seen by a witness running out of the house with a cigarette lighter in his hand immediately after the fire started."
Batts was detained at the scene of the fire, and he was found to have two lighters on his person, the affidavit stated.
The Houston County grand jury also indicted Lewis Bowen Duckworth II on a first-degree felony aggravated sexual assault charge and a third-degree felony felony failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements. Duckworth allegedly convinced a severely mentally challenged woman that she was his wife and sexually assaulted her.
According to the arrest affidavit East Texas News obtained on Tuesday, Houston County Sheriff's Office deputies interviewed a 31-year-old woman who is severely mentally challenged who must have a caregiver to help her with life skills. The woman is unable to live on her own, the affidavit stated.
During the interview, the alleged victim told the HCSO deputies that Duckworth showed her a piece of paper that he said was a marriage license and made her sign it, the affidavit stated. She told the deputies that Duckworth would take her to a house on County Road 3151.
The alleged victim told the deputies that Duckworth would make her have sexual intercourse and oral sex with him because he told her they were married, the affidavit stated. Duckworth allegedly told her she had to because she was his wife even though the victim told him no.
According to the affidavit, the woman told the HCSO deputies that Duckworth would drive her around at night, drink beer, and touch her breasts.
"The victim stated that the defendant would be mean to her by calling her names and cussing her and that he would not let her have any friends," the affidavit stated. "He did not want her to go anywhere unless she was with him."
Duckworth is a registered sex offender in Houston County, according to the affidavit.
Before Duckworth was arrested on June 17, multiple law enforcement agencies had been looking for him. Deep East Texas Crime Stoppers put out a fugitive bulletin on him.