NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches County jury has found a Center man guilty of two counts of continuous sexual abuse of a child. After the verdict was read, a district judge then sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Jones said the sentence for Michael Anderson was automatic due to him having a prior conviction for sexual assault of a child.
Jones said Anderson originally had chosen for a jury to determine his punishment. But when he was convicted of the two higher counts, he then decided to allow Judge Edwin Klein to sentence him, likely because he knew the life punishment was automatic.
Jones said the other nine counts were lesser included offenses of individual sexual assaults included in the continuous charges. Once he was convicted of the continuous charges, he could not be convicted of the included offenses.
Wednesday marked the second day of the trial, and the state recalled a previous witness. An investigator with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office told the jury that after the sexual assault report was filed, the case was considered closed because Anderson was no longer living in the home.
Noel Cooper, Anderson's defense attorney, did not call any witnesses to the stand.
Both sides in the case had rested as of about 10 a.m. Wednesday.
In closing arguments, the state said the boys were living in a situation where they were stuck to tell the adults around them. In addition, she argued both boys feared making the allegations will label them liars. While the defense raised doubt on the lack of physical evidence, one in particular of the alleged bed Anderson is accused of having the boys perform sexual acts. He posed a question to the jury asking where is the alleged mattress involved in the crime.
The state countered back and said the boys had no power, emphasizing they were children at the time and the family has since moved to another city.
The defense raised further doubt to the jury on the mother of lacking information about the allegations. He asked the group to consider the mother's role saying these allegations were happening for long period of time while she was working on the property.
The back and forth arguments between the state and defense continued before the jury went into deliberations.
In her opening arguments Tuesday, Janet Cassels, a prosecutor with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office, told the jury Anderson is charged for sexually assaulting two boys where Anderson progressively disrobed and performed sexual acts. Cassels said the victims attempted to tell the adults around them during the time of the incidents.
Cooper countered during his opening remarks and told the jury to consider listening to all the evidence, but most importantly, pay close attention to what is not being said during testimony.
Bill Murphy, a special investigator with the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office, explained to the jury how he received the interview reports from authorities in Houston of a crime involving sexual allegations from May to December 2011 which happened in the county.
One of the two victims took the stand next. The victim told the jury details of how Anderson was involved in their lives. The victim said the sexual acts started one day when he came home from school. He said Anderson asked him to lie on the bed, and Anderson put his arm over him. In the following incidents, Anderson asked the boy to disrobe progressively.
"Each incident, I would remove more and more clothes. I would be fondled through my clothing on and then fondled when all clothing was removed," the victim said.
The boy continued and said Anderson, who he referred to as "Mikey" would also undress at the same rate as the victim.
During one incident, the victim said Anderson asked him to touch him in his private parts.
"I didn't want to, but I was forced to," the victim said. "It was painful. I felt violated. It was not OK."
The defense argued back, bringing up an incident in 2015, where the victim was caught deleting photographs and text messages which were sexual in nature. Cooper asked the victim about text messages which were later confirmed were evidence of sexual nature with two gentlemen.
The second victim also took the stand Tuesday, and he told the jury how Anderson put his hands down the victim's pants and groped him numerous times.
"I was mostly ashamed," the second victim said, explaining how he felt after each incident. "I felt powerless. I felt dirty, unclean. I knew it was wrong, but I was too scared to do anything about it."
The victim said Anderson would ask him to clean up after each incident and flip the mattress.
An investigator with NCSO said, after further questioning of a report of a sex offense, the allegations were not proved because at the time in 2012, forensic interview was not conducted.
In January 2012, a CPS case worker interviewed a victim after a report was filed by the step-dad, but the case was closed, based on a ruling that Anderson was no longer part of the victim's lives. CPS said their aim is to ensure children are not in any present danger. In addition, the CPS case worker said ruling to close the case was a call she regrets.